Nine Leader Qualities

We understand now that everyone in an organization is a leader whether they operate with a title or not. Here are nine key qualities people seek most in a leader. Which qualities do you own?

  1. Humility. It is often found in the most effective leaders, including Pope John Paul II and Abraham Lincoln.
  2. Integrity. Leaders in different industries and cultures can and do spar over the rules, but integrity is the bedrock characteristic of straight dealing. If you lose your integrity, you lose everything.
  3. Decisiveness. While consensus drives decision-making in certain quarters, most U.S. firms prize a leader’s ability to step up and make decisions, even if it’s deciding only when consensus has been reached and it’s time to act.
  4. Emotional toughness. The trick is being able to make difficult, emotional decisions without appearing cold-hearted or weak-kneed.
  5. Emotional resonance. This is the ability to grasp what motivates others and use it to inspire them into action.
  6. Adaptability. A pronounced characteristic of every leader in today’s global marketplace, adaptability is characterized chiefly by speed, but also by innovation.
  7. Self-knowledge. This valuable trait will protect you from overreaching.
  8. Passion. Fortunately, this trait is prized and encouraged in American life. If you are passionate about something, that’s where you will lead.
  9. Conviction. All leaders everywhere believe in what they’re doing.

Source: Adapted from “Asian and American Leadership Styles: How Are They Unique?” D. Quinn Mill, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge,

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