Monday, January 5, 2009
Four Traits of Effective Leaders
A young officer in the Army discovered that he had no change when he tried to buy a soft drink from a vending machine. He flagged down a passing private and asked him, “Do you have change for a dollar?”
The private said cheerfully, “I think so. Let me take a look.”
The officer drew himself up stiffly and said, “Soldier, that is no way to address a superior. We’ll start all over again. Do you have change for a dollar?”
The private came to attention, saluted smartly, and said, “No, sir!”
Each of us commands some authority. There are or will be those we guide, supervise, rear, mentor or lead. Some of us will be effective and others will feel as if we’re running a cemetery: we’ve got a lot of people under us and nobody’s listening.
Much has been written and taught about leadership, but I find that at least four traits are common in all people of authority who effectively elicit cooperation and respect from those who look up to them. Whether you are a parent, whether you find yourself in the workplace, sitting on a volunteer committee or teaching some-one a new skill, these traits will help you effectively guide those who would seek to follow.
These good leaders are...
Listeners. They take time to listen to the suggestions and concerns of those they endeavor to lead.
Encouragers. They don’t try to do it all themselves. Neither do they motivate by force or guilt. They encourage others and help bring out their best.
Assertive. They say what needs to be said without being unkind. They tell the truth as they see it, openly and frankly.
Decisive. They know what needs to be done and they make timely, even difficult, decisions when necessary. But they can also take charge without running over the people in their lives.
In short, good leaders L-E-A-D!
It’s said that the trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you. But those who will develop these four traits are sure to find that their authority will be valued and respected.
-- Steve Goodier
Image: flickr.com/Hamed Saber