When you think of a great leader, who do you think of? Let me see; Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. George Washington, Julius K Nyerere, right…? Those people who are, or have sacrificed their lives for greater good. That’s why they are called great leaders, because they have had great influences on so many people lives. Their lives served greater purposes for the benefit of so many people.
I don’t know what it takes to be a great leader, but I know there are four distinguishable qualities that they all have in common. So, what are these 4 qualities?
- Good Communicators
Great leaders have the ability to relate, connect, communicate, and identify with people in such a way that it increases their influence on them. In order to succeed in all your relationship life area – your family, marriage, children, friends, colleagues, business acquaintances, customers, neighbors, and etc, it requires you to have the ability to connect and communicate with those people God has placed in your life. Because of their abilities to connect with people, great leaders are able to achieve what others seem to struggle to achieve. If you are looking to become a leader, then this is an area you need to work on. The more you can connect with others to relate and identify with them, the more you can be able to lead them and help them. I was listening to Pastor TD Jakes one day in one of his sermons, and he said, “If you are looking for leadership, you don’t need to look upfront to find it. Great leadership doesn’t start out on the stage. Great leaders they just don’t start out as Governors, Mayors, Presidents, Managers, or CEOs. Great leadership starts in the back. If it’s in the business, it starts out in a janitorial booth. If you are in Church, it starts in a pew.”
- Good Listeners
We have learned that it may be impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. But what if I tell you, it may be impossible also to be a great leader and communicator without being a good listener. People don’t care how much you know or what you say until they know how much you care, for them, their situations, their country, et cetera. In order to develop meaningful relationships with others, you need to be a good listener. Great leaders listen to the people they lead and influence. And they know that before they are leaders, they are followers. They follow up on their people, on the promises they made to them. They listen to their concerns, struggles, complaints, what’s on their mind, and so on. And they don’t just listen; they work on resolving those issues according to their capabilities and authority that has been put on them. Great leaders also have solid desires to learn from those around them and are willing to hear the advice and feedback of others. In business for instance; it means listening to your staff, customers, market, etc. At home, it means listening to your family members; spouse, children, parents, or siblings. If you want to be a leader with positive influences on people, work on your listening skills.
You would think after 27 years of living in prison, after being convicted on the charges of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, Nelson Mandela would have been finished. But he didn’t; in fact after he was released from the prison, he continued with his great mission of tackling institutionalized racism and fostering racial reconciliation, and serving as a President of South of Africa. Perhaps, while he was in prison, it was his great opportunity for him to prepared, learned, stood for what he believed, and to became a great leader that he became. Great leaders have the ability to see through years of rejection, hard work, and sacrifice. They set their eyes on their great missions and the outcome of their end goals, and do not get overwhelmed by the distance it may take them to get there. There is this quote by Earl Nightingale that says, “Never give up on your dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” A leader needs to patiently see things through to the end, and not give in to stress or pressure. One true measure of a leader is on how much weight he or she can carry, and how well she or he can overcome hardship. And great leaders can handle pressure.
Great leaders lead with a high purpose, therefore it is important for them to see the big picture. They have abilities to focus on the big picture without getting drawn too much into smaller details. Great leaders are visionaries. When Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream,” it was about people, and not a project, program, et cetera. It was about a vision that he had for his people. Basically, a visionary is someone who is able to see, dream, believe, and imagine future possibilities in their minds and then explain what they have imagined clearly to others. Through their imagination they can draw future possibilities for their businesses, organizations, countries, or specific group of people, and how they can make the world better for others. You can recognize great leaders by their abilities to see the big picture, and their optimism about the future.
If you have these qualities, you have something special. Good news for you, if you continue to nurture your special qualities, who knows, you may become a great leader in your days. For those of us who are missing some of these qualities, no worries, leadership skills can be learned and developed. The choice is ours; we can decide today to start improving our leadership skills that are necessary to help us grow to the leaders that we desire to become.
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