Qualities of a Superior Leader

A colleague and I were discussing leadership qualities earlier today and she asked why some “good” people don’t make good leaders.  If they have good character, why are they unable to “influence” others?  The short and simple answer is that good intentions and strength of character alone do not guarantee success as a leader.  While strength of character is important, indeed essential, there are several other attributes and qualities that are also necessary. Ironically, people don’t have to be “good” at all for others to follow them.  The power of influence is as often wielded by those with nefarious intentions, or more specifically, intentions that are primarily self serving.  That’s why it’s so important to understand that leaders emerge independent of titles and positions of authority.  If only they would use their powers for good instead of evil!

Key to any leader’s success is credibility.  Credibility must first be established in order to earn the trust and respect of others.  So, how do we establish credibility?  “Walking the talk,” “leading by example,” “being hands on,” “open honest communication” – I’ve heard these solutions in virtually every leadership seminar I’ve ever attended.  But what do they really mean?  These are all valid methods for establishing and maintaining credibility as a leader, but still do not speak to the deeper innate qualities that almost mysteriously manifest as superior leadership in some, while somehow leaving others impotent and ineffective.

Over the years, I’ve read countless books, spent hours upon hours in classes and programs, and dedicated the better part of my professional career searching for the meaning of superior leadership and the qualities that will make me most effective, in my role at work and also in my everyday life.  My desire is to not merely be a better manager, but also a better husband and father, a better friend and a better person.  I freely and openly acknowledge that I have been heavily influenced by numerous teachers, colleagues, subordinates and superiors.  After all, we’re all products of our environment and experiences.  I’ve filed away bits and pieces of principles from numerous scholars and authors from John MacArthur to Peter Senge, and added them all to the wealth of lessons I’ve learned first hand through practical experience.  And all of it I’ve slowly shaped into my own personal leadership model.  It will always be a work in progress, for the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know, and so the model is constantly evolving through an endless pursuit of illusive perfection.

In my model, the qualities of a superior leader can be broken down into 5 essential attributes:

  1. Character
  2. Discipline
  3. Humility
  4. Courage
  5. Vision

These attributes represent the broadest measure of a leader’s effectiveness and success.  I view them sort of like chapter titles in a book.  To get a complete picture of what superior leadership looks like, you have to keep reading.

Over the next several posts, I will explore in detail the individual qualities these attributes represent and hopefully provide a meaningful context for application.

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About Bryant
Bryant is a business management and organizational development executive with over 20 years’ experience focused on financial and operational efficiencies, talent development and optimization, improved employee engagement, and cultural alignment of teams within the organization. He has diverse experience in successful financial and strategic planning, brand management, leadership analysis and talent development, as well as designing and executing improvements to teams’ cultural efficacy and organizational alignment. Bryant has experience in both International Public S&P 500 Corporate and Non-Profit Sectors, and also runs his own entrepreneurial business venture, a consulting company specializing in helping small businesses and organizations improve operational efficiency, leadership development, and employee engagement . Bryant holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelors in Fine Arts (BFA).

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