The ‘n’ most important Leadership Traits

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We, at Flourish, believe in developing leaders for all stages and walks of life. Leadership, however, means many things to many people. While our leadership development workshops and executive coaching interventions are tailored to suit individual and organizational needs, it is important to articulate for our clients a clear vision of what we mean by leadership.

With that in mind, we have come up with a list of traits we consider are fundamental to the leadership practice – this is what we believe leaders should do and this is where we would focus our time and energy, while working with a leader to take her from good to great.

At the outset, let us clarify that we do believe that there is a difference in outcomes , expectations and traits expected of a great leader vis-a-vis a great manager. We have chosen to focus on leadership development for  the time being.

So, here are the traits we believe a good leader should cultivate (the list is in no particular order):

  1. The troop master: ability to engage, motivate and drive employees so that they are willing to do all that it takes to achieve the mission.
  2. The loving gardener:  ability to coach, mentor, groom and grow employees to help them flower into the best version of themselves.
  3. The knowledgeable guide: ability to formulate and communicate vision and road-map so as to move an organization from where it is to where it needs to be.
  4. The change catalyst: ability to execute on the vision, with the help of others, and managing change and uncertainty during the whole process.
  5. The cultural evangelist: ability to foster and role-model the culture of innovation, risk- taking and collaboration by being its most visible embodiment.
  6. The air traffic controller: ability to make fast, quick and tough decisions and the ability to juggle and prioritize amongst many competing priorities to keep all the balls in the air.
  7. The chess grandmaster:  ability to think strategically and be two steps ahead of the competition.
  8. The shrewd businessmen: ability to understand deeply the business and technologies involved with one eye always fixated on the bottom-line.
  9. The moon seller: ability to influence, persuade and get on-board different stakeholders even if its for a possibly one way trip to the moon.
  10. The casting director: ability to recruit and build a strong team, with complimentary and diverse skill-sets, and enabling exceptional teamwork and productivity by matching people and roles.
  11. The role-model: ability to inspire others as a result of having impeccable integrity and a strong work ethics.
  12. The pied-piper : ability to charm and woo large groups of people so as to leave them excited, enthused and energized.
  13. The courageous warrior: ability to take cudgels on the team’s behalf and fight uphill battles to ensure safety, security and well being of her people.
  14. The buffering shield: ability to stay calm and emotionally stable under immense pressure and the willingness and capability to not pass on that pressure downwards.
  15. The corner psychologist: ability to understand people in all their complexity – their emotions, their motivations and the lenses from which they filter their realities.
  16. The catcher in the rye: ability to take a backseat when needed and ready to support and pull back his team members when someone is not able to cope with the work/ life pressures and providing the necessary safety net. (this insight is courtesy my 8 year old who looking at the photo accompanying this post asked who the leader was: when I pointed to the one in front, he said but shouldn’t it be the one at the rear who can catch and prevent others from falling, if need be? )

Of course, like all lists, this is bound to be incomplete and subjectively biased.  The purpose of putting the list on our website is to be aware of that bias, by soliciting feedback and additional traits that you think should be on the list, and at the same time, be very transparent about which lenses do we see leadership through.

Your comments/ suggestions will be very valuable and help  us in refining our theories of leadership and tailoring our programs  to better suit our client’s needs.

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