Some of our greatest leaders were born with qualities that would make them a good leader, but it is my opinion that over time, all of the important leadership qualities are greatly developed. I discuss the four major qualities that I believe makes a good leader a great leader: Vision, Respect and Trust, Self-Awareness and the ability to delegate. Great leaders have vision, they earned the trust and respect, they can self-assess, and they can delegate. The greatest leaders are ones who learn from their experiences.
It is natural to want to be a leader, but it is the life experiences over time that makes the greatest leaders. Were some of our greatest leaders born and not made, I am not sure if one can truly answer that question. I do believe that some of our greatest leaders were born with qualities that would make them a good leader, but their skills were polished over time. Leaders are human, and like all humans they are not perfect, they may be perfect for their time, but they developed into their roles. A good leader can be born but, I believe our greatest leaders were made over time.
There are four major qualities that make a good leader a great leader: Vision, Respect and Trust, Self-Awareness and the ability to delegate. Each of the qualities one can very easily be born with, but it is one’s ability to utilize each of these skills in the most efficient way that will be effective. As Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work…. ” Developing ones vision to be a great leader is as Dr. Pace puts it “What you…. want to accomplish, and the way you want to accomplish it. ” (Pace, 2006, p. 87).
Vision goes beyond accomplishment and includes the ability to communicate and act. An effective leader must learn ways of effective communication. No one is born with a mastery of their Native tongue. Additionally, communication is an art form that includes sending and receiving, but more importantly what is the context, what is the effect of the message, what is message, what is the background (Shockley-Zalabak, 2012)? A leader must master all aspects of communication. In addition to that effective communication; the leader’s ability to act decisively on decisions they make will then complete their vision.
No Leader is ever going to take action without due diligence. That due diligence my include console from subordinate, but it also includes that leader’s previous experiences. Once again a great Leader is not born with previous experiences; they must learn and gain those experiences. Trust and respect are not “learned” skills; people do not wake up one morning automatically trusting or respecting people. The major exception is perhaps in government, where we respect the office of our leaders, even if we do not respect the leader.
Trust and respect are qualities that are earned over time and it is the great leaders that gain ones trust and respect over time. Leaders do not demand trust and respect; they do it by leading by example and they support their subordinate and help them develop (Pace, 2006). Self-Awareness is the overall key to becoming a great leader. As Erika Andersen, author and contributor to Forbes Magazine said, “Most folks who start out with a modicum of innate leadership capability can actually become very good, even great leaders. ” (Anderson, 2012, p. 1).
She Describes self-awareness as becoming a fair witness, invite feedback and listen. Becoming fair witness is taking that step back, analyzing your actions, and figuring out what could have done better. Feedback is easy, allow criticism, and let people be honest. Finally, listen to them, invite the comments but absorb the info and learn from them (Anderson, 2012). Delegating responsibility is perhaps one of the most learned parts of being a leader. Leaders are good at specific tasks and can usually do what their subordinates are able to do (Pace, 2006).
Much like a coach who may have played the sport, they must now allow their athletes to do the work; so must a leader allow their subordinates do the heavy lifting. Gen. George S. Patton was a brilliant Military Leader and Strategist, but without letting his Corps and Divisional Commanders do their jobs, he would not have been nearly as successful as he was (Zaloga, 2010). Gen Patton by his nature was a micromanager, but he knew by experience that he had to let his commanders do their job. Delegating is a learned trait; it is not natural for someone to assign a roject, step back, and allow someone else to do it. However, that is what a leader must do. As examples have shown good leaders are born, but our Greatest Leaders are ones who learn from their experiences. Great leaders have vision, they earned the trust and respect of their subordinates, they can self-assess and make corrections, and they can delegate the responsibility and jobs down to their subordinates. It is natural to want to be a leader, but it is the life experiences that make the greatest leaders.