Successful leaders and entrepreneurs can be born or made, but they tend to share some common characteristics that are crucial to their success. In general, an effective leader is:
1) Exemplary – A good leader is a role model for his (or her) team. With his character, he sets a standard, and he inspires others to follow his lead. He must demonstrate that he is trustworthy and pays more than just lip service to his professed ideals.
2) Enthusiastic – An excellent leader is passionate about his work and instills the same in others. His enthusiasm motivates his team toward their common goals, even if his role is different from theirs. At the same time, an enthusiastic leader is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty.
3) Confident – To lead and set direction effectively, a leader must have confidence in himself and his role. He will thus inspire confidence in others and elicit his team’s trust and best efforts.
4) Steadfast – In times of uncertainty, a good leader remains steady and purposeful. He continues to function in an orderly way and reassures his team by exuding a positive attitude. He stays calm, composed, and focused in a crisis. Crises are inevitable in business; a great leader stays the course through it all.
5) Analytical – An excellent leader not only keeps his eyes on the prize, but also breaks down the process for reaching that goal into manageable steps. He then establishes benchmarks for measuring progress.
6) Creative – A great leader can always see ways to improve and knows that every idea can be broadened, expanded upon, or enhanced. He “thinks outside the box” and is not afraid to try new things. At the same time, he recognizes when an idea, strategy, or process is not working and puts a stop to it.
7) Committed to excellence – A commitment to excellence means never compromising values or standards. Second-best does not achieve success. The best leaders hew to high standards and do not shy away from “raising the bar” to achieve excellence in all areas.
These fundamental characteristics may be God-given or developed with time and experience. In either case, the successful leader works continually to refine and strengthen these traits, which will stand the test of time and help him weather the inevitable storms of business life. Ultimately, the best leaders never give up. They keep their eyes on the prize and lead their team toward reaching it.