What Makes a Leader

June 29, 2008

The qualities of a strong leader are hard to quantify.  Whether you are leader of an organization, the leader of a nation, or just the leader of a family, it takes a variety of qualities to get the job done.  Many have written about the characteristics that you must possess to lead people to accomplish great things.

Can someone learn to be a leader or are the great leaders born that way?  I cannot answer that question, however there is one thing that defines strong leaders the world over.  It is an innate ability to empower the people around you.  You do not always have to know what to do, or be able to see the right moves.  But the ability to surround yourself with the right people who can get the job done, and then let them do what it is they are there to do, will always give you better results than you would get on your own.

Empowering others involves providing the right structure to give everyone in an organization a voice.  The free flow of information will always result in new ideas and new direction.  As a leader, you have to have the foresight to clear the path and allow others to speak for you.  You have to be confident in yourself and others simultaneously.  You have to let your ego aside and allow things to happen without interference.  The greatest leaders have not always come up with the ideas that lead to innovation, they recognize others who have the ideas and put them in a position to speak.

When people feel free to express themselves, they have the confidence to get things done.  By limiting the voices of those around you, you narrow the possibilities and lead to compromised decisions.  To be a truly great leader, you have to be able to encourage growth within every aspect of an organization.  Then, and only then, will the greatest ideas make their way to the front of the line.

With this is in mind, it seems that great leaders can learn the skills necessary to lead.  Some people are born to lead, but we all have the ability to choose to lead.  Leadership is about people, and the people you lead will guide you along the way.  Empower those around you and you will find that they have the solutions you are looking for.