Every Wednesday, my team and I have what we call a “leadership meeting.” We revolve who teaches each week, and since I think leadership is the key ingredient to success in any part of life, the topics are generally pretty broad ranging from “creativity in leadership”, “nutrition education” or even traveling tips.
This past week, however, we dialed in and talked as a group specifically about the key personality traits of the ideal leader. Below, I will outline them, define them, and explain how we got there.
At first, I went around the room and asked what the top 3 traits each team member thought was important for a leader to have. After going around the room, we ended up with 21 traits written on the board (we have 5 people in the office, but you’ll see from the picture below there was an “others” column)
After going through the 21 traits, as a team, we collectively decided that these were the 5 Key Personality Traits of the Ideal Leader:
Humility is the underlying ingredient to be the right kind of servant leader. The type who empowers others by setting the example but doesn’t always do the job for them. Humility, in this sense, is not a lack of confidence or self-worth, but the absence of pride and self-absorption. Knowing that you wouldn’t be where you are without your God-given talents, abilities, and most importantly, your team.
Influence is very simply the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of others. More specifically, positive influence. It’s hard to be a leader if people don’t want to follow you.
Vision can be defined as a picture in the leader’s imagination that motivates people to action when communicated compellingly, passionately and clearly. To be a visionary, a leader need have nothing more than a clear vision of the future. A visionary leader who clearly and passionately communicates his or her vision can motivate employees to act with passion and purpose, thereby ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal. The end result is that everyone contributes to the organization’s forward momentum.
Open-mindedness is receptiveness to new ideas, which relates to the way in which people approach the views and knowledge of others. Open-minded individuals are more inclined to listen to, and seriously consider, alternative viewpoints. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “every man is my superior, in that, I learn of him”, which means that everyone has some value to contribute, and if we don’t recognize that value, we are stunting our personal growth and the growth of the team and mission as a whole.
Competence is a cluster of related abilities, commitments, knowledge, and skills that enable a person to act effectively in a job or situation, and we believe both relative to the specific field, and general competence are important for a great leader. This may seem insensitive, but charisma can only take you so far. People need to know they are following someone who knows what they are talking about, how to get the job done, and if not, someone who knows how to find a way to figure it out.
Us choosing these 5 traits doesn’t mean the rest aren’t important. If you look closely, the remaining 16 traits are key ingredients to mastering the main 5 we’ve identified. Open-mindedness takes self-awareness and empathy just like influence takes charisma, passion and communication.