How to be a great leader

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Leadership is the ability to influence, guide, and motivate team members (or subordinates) towards the accomplishment of a set goal or objective. For there to be a leader, there must be followers. The followers work with the leader to accomplish one or more set goals. How effectively the leader is able to accomplish these set goals with his followers is what constitutes quality leadership. 

A quality leader will create mental pictures of what he/she wants to accomplish, and transfer this mental picture, through effective communication and optimism, to his/her team members, so that they can all share in the collective dream. The leader must make his/her team-members believe that the set goal is achievable, if they all work together as a team and are determined to achieve success. He/she inspires the followers, by showing that he/she is not afraid to roll up his/her sleeves to get dirty; he/she leads by example. 

A quality leader is compassionate. While they (quality leaders) are largely focused on the accomplishment of the set-goal, they treat their followers with respect, ooze out confidence, and boost their followers’ spirits with encouraging words. In correcting their misbehaviors, a competent leader doesn’t spit out corrosive words, but delivers a message that clarifies what is expected of the misbehaving member, and how adversely his/her actions may be affecting the project, in a respectable manner.   

A quality leader is unshakeable (stoic). When things go bad, and circumstances look very likely to get bad, a great leader will not jitter, but rather inspire confidence. The leader is supposed to inspire confidence, security, and safety, not insecurity and fear. And since he/she must be mentally agile and analytical, he/she is expected to come up with an effective solution that will pull them out of deep waters. A leader that inspires fear and uncertainty is not a good leader (he should then be replaced); one of the key qualities of leadership is the ability to deliver and succeed. 

In addition, a quality leader must be emotionally stable and mentally balanced. He or she cannot afford to lash out, lose composure, or have doubts in the course of accomplishing the set goal. The followers look up to the leader, and a leader who lacks emotional stability cannot manage the imperfections and emotional instabilities of his/her followers. He/she will also be terrible at managing conflict within the team. 

A quality leader must have determination and resolve. He/she must be driven towards the accomplishment of the set goal. The followers should be able to see that the leader is motivated and highly focused on the goal. This is likely to inspire and motivate the followers, who may then come to see that the goal is achievable through determination, diligence, and concerted effort. 

A major quality that defines leadership is the ability to accomplish goals through people. As long as you are able to accomplish great goals through people, that makes you a leader. Whether you are an official leader, a political leader, or a mere person with goals to achieve via people, bear in mind that you need to be able to manage people to accomplish such goals. The people that are being managed should be enthusiastic and confident about achieving the set goal. Your ability to inspire them and bring them to accomplish this goal in a concerted manner makes you an effective leader. 

A leader must do everything in his power to keep the ship he is sailing afloat. The ship is supposed to get to the shore (the destination), not sink. It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that the ship gets to the destination. If a leader does not accomplish an assigned or set goal, then he has failed as a leader. A leader must therefore think thoroughly and observe before making critical decisions. He must not allow himself to be pushed by others, but must learn to take into consideration the suggestions and ideas of other people. If a leader is being forced to take some decisions, that means he is no longer the one leading; he has lost control of the steering wheel of the ship. He cannot afford to let that happen; other people must know their place. 

A leader who shows uncertainty and indecision shows that he is not fit to lead. You cannot afford to make other people think that you lack competence. Competence determines a lot in life, including opportunities and job security. If you are going to lead, then the people must believe that you have what it takes to lead. They must believe that you hold the steering wheel, and you have a vision. They must also believe that you can make intelligent decisions for the good of many. As a leader, sometimes you have to make the tough calls. 

A quality leader must be able to carry on in the midst of criticisms and slanders. The challenges of leading shows that a leader must have great endurance. There’s no leader without haters and plotters. You must also have a calm demeanor; oozing out the impression that everything is under control. Even though you feel terribly scared in your mind, you can’t afford to make this evident to other people. You must do everything you can to find solutions to your problem and accomplish the set goal. A leader who is not a problem-solver appears as an incompetent leader. 

A great leader must also be firm and audacious; making decisions with clarity and confidence. He or she must not allow themselves to be intimated by others. The leader must be consistent in his or her decisions, and bold, no matter how uncomfortable he or she feels about it. Decisions that waver simply give the impression that the leader is unsure of himself, and by extension, unsure of how to accomplish the set-goals. When followers are not sure that they have a competent leader, things are bound to go bad for the project.