What are the features and attributes we find in leaders?
Many of them are extrovert, although we have probably all met the strong silent influencers, who are the exception that proves the rule Leaders are usually “people people “.
That is to say, comfortable interacting with others, and they usually seek leadership positions.
It is now thought that there are certain key attributes that leaders have, which enable them to develop the skills to become leaders. It is a moot point whether having these attributes makes a person a leader, or a better leader .Would they be able to make it as leaders without these attributes?
Kirkpatrick and Locke say that research identifies the key traits for leaders as:
- Drive – Being motivated and ambitious, energetic and tenacious, able to take the initiative.
- Leadership motivation – The ambition to lead others, and a clear vision of where the business should be. This not the desire for power in itself.
- Honesty and integrity —encouraging followers to respect you;
- Self-confidence – this is associated with emotional stability;
- Cognitive ability – Or intelligence
- Business Knowledge – is usually essential for credibility.
Kirkpatrick, S.A. and Locke, E.A. (1991) “Leadership: do traits matter?” Academy of Management Perspectives
Other characteristics often thought to contribute to successful leadership are charisma, ingenuity and resilience, though interestingly there is not clear research evidence for this.
What other attributes are important for leadership?
Self-Motivation is an important attribute. People who are self-motivated find it easier to motivate others, an important aspect of leadership. They tend to set themselves high but realistic goals, take risks, commit to organisational goals as well as personal, seek out opportunities, and are able to deal with setbacks.
A strong personality is also important, often embodied by attributes such as charisma, self-confidence and assertiveness.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a key indicator of leadership potential. EI is part of a person’s psyche. It is the ability to recognise and manage one’s own emotions, and those of other people, both individually and in groups. It is epitomised by self-control. This skill enables them to develop interpersonal relationships and to fit in well in groups. People with higher emotional intelligence enjoy more satisfying and successful careers and relationships.
Someone’s level of Emotional intelligence can be perceived by how they shape their life – their personal and interpersonal skills, whether they develop meaningful relationships with others, their understanding and empathy with people, how they manage their own emotions. It encompasses self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation, and social skills such as empathy with others, communication and influencing skills.
Interpersonal skills are the skills we use to interact with other people. Strong interpersonal skills facilitate communication and facilitates stronger relationships. Emotional intelligence is a measure of our ability to understand other people and their emotions, and our actions and behaviours towards them.
Improving and developing EI skills helps with personal development and growth. The higher someone’s level of EI , the more likely they are to achieve a successful career and enjoy rich personal relationships .Their skills and achievements give them a high level of self-confidence, which in turn makes them more interesting and attractive.