Even if you weren’t the kid who led the neighborhood when you were ten-years-old, you can become a more influential leader. I was an effective leader when I transitioned from business consulting and motivational speaking to the horse industry. During those years my skills as both a servant leader and entrepreneur grew in ways I never expected.
Move From Good Leadership to Great Leadership
I was blessed to study leadership in an almost perfect environment because I learned how to offer leadership to every kind of horse, from hopeless to fearless, specializing in stallions. Horses make the best study partners because they don’t lie to themselves or anyone else. You can’t fool a horse and you can’t fool God.
The following seven leadership traits offer a roadmap toward achieving more for you and your team. This post summarizes seven required traits of servant leadership excellence.
The most valuable trait of effective leaders is excellent character.
Leadership Traits: Article Overview
- Leadership mastery requires ability + character + desire.
- Leadership demands consistency.
- Trust is the currency of leadership.
- Leaders believe in objective truth.
- Trusted leaders are scrupulously honest.
- Leaders put the mission and team before accolades or glory.
- Savvy leaders know that relationships are critical to any success.
Ability Doesn’t Guarantee Success
History is full of qualified men and women gifted with amazing ability who never achieved the promise nature and heredity made. In most instances, defects of character, including, but not limited to, avarice, addictions, or immorality, poisoned their performance.
Learning that natural talents alone don’t produce character, perseverance, or commitment is a huge hurdle for gifted people.
Leaders Are Consistent
Character describes who a person is. Every leader possesses the trait of being consistent, level, and constant. They’re solid personally, even when they change plans or strategies. Consistency inspires trust because your walk and talk match and you’re the same person in every situation.
Great leaders are smart leaders, but intelligence alone isn’t enough. Dynamic leaders are lateral thinkers who can think fast and pivot without losing their balance. Successful leaders think one step ahead of the game, make intelligent choices, and course-correct when necessary without losing the primary vision.
Leaders Are Trustworthy
“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it knows and loves the One Who is leading.” — Oswald Chambers
Every outstanding leader is worthy of the faith his or her followers place in them. Faith is not an irrational emotion, but something that is built upon practical, physical, and tangible experiences. A promise made is a promise kept. The word of genuine leaders always proves to be true.
Everyone you work with needs to be able to trust you. The gold-standard of leadership currency is trust. If you act with integrity as a living example of your Core Values, you’ll earn a reputation for being honest and trustworthy.
Leaders Deal In Absolute Truths
Blurry concepts or rationalizations never make great success stories. Leaders know what’s true, which means they know also what’s false. Have you ever heard of a philosopher who was a leader of people and actually accomplished something real? Certainly, there have been leaders in the “thought” arena, but few ever built a ship, won a battle, or inspired a nation.
Authentic leaders know what they know and act accordingly. Their loyalty, their integrity, and the well-being of their followers are not for sale at any price.
Absolutes establish standards and define both wins and losses. It’s impossible to accomplish fluid goals that move, squish, or yield to the power of opinion.
Trusted Leaders Tell The Truth
It is quite astounding how many people testify to faith in known liars. The excuses range from “She may have lied to you, but she wouldn’t lie to me!” to “She may have lied about this but that doesn’t mean she would lie about anything really important!”
Liars are manipulators. They lie to sway, to convince, to persuade, to evade, or to prepare an ambush. Satan is the father of lies. God is truth. There is no middle ground.
There is a lie in every broken promise. Worthy leaders do not intentionally lie. Ever. No exceptions. Promises are not made unless there is overwhelming confidence that they can be kept.
Leaders Never Seek Glory for Glory’s Sake
One of the absolute characteristics of leaders is the pursuit of a goal other than personal position or power. Accolades, prizes, and crowns are given by others, many times when the leaders who deserved them would rather just pass up the fuss.
Leadership is paved with cobblestones of noble character. Excellent character is good, moral, and attainable. Begin by being consistent, worthy of faith, and always push toward the finish line for the sake of finishing and not for the prize.
Leaders Understand That Success Depends On Relationships
A good leader is a people person. That doesn’t necessarily mean that introverts can’t be good leaders. But they do know how to connect with and get the best out of their teams. They understand the skills mix and potential of their staff and want to help them grow and develop.
Responsible leaders are part of the team. They work side-by-side with everyone else when the deadlines are looming. Good leaders earn the respect of their employees by working just as hard, if not harder, than their staff does.
Effective leaders have excellent communication skills. That doesn’t just mean they know how to work a room or deliver a presentation or negotiate a killer deal. It means they know how to talk with and listen to their staff. They know how to communicate their vision and inspire commitment and loyalty.
Great leaders interact well with team members, clients, stakeholders, and other leaders.
Jesus Christ, The Most Worth Leader
The greatest element of leadership is consistent, excellent character. As Christ-followers, we aim to become more like Jesus each day. Training programs can teach you skills, but they can’t change character when there is a resistance to change.
Those in right relationship with Jesus Christ, the most worthy of Leaders, don’t aspire to be either right or worthy. They simply are. The cobblestones, bricks, blocks, and footings of strengthening relationship add up over days, weeks, and years to form what is amazing, inspirational, and in some ways, even supernatural leadership achievement.
Sherpas know the way, show the way, and have a personal stake in getting everyone to the summit and back without loss or injury. They guide, teach, serve as examples, and empower; Sherpas do not command. Their authority is the product of experience and character, not punitive or corporate power.
I’ve been a leadership junkie for decades. Transitioning from corporate America, consulting, and motivational speaking to horse training wasn’t as difficult as it may seem at first blush, because the rules for success were the same.