The Five Characteristics of a Great Leader #blindpost

by Jeff Hilimire on January 28, 2013

This is a blindpost* from the Fast Company article, The Five Characteristics of a Great Leader. Basically, I read the title and write the article from my point of view, without ever reading the original article.

So, here is my list of the five characteristics of a great leader. Obviously, this is pulled from my experience observing great leaders in action. It was tough getting down to only five, but at least at this particular time these are the ones that are resonating strongly with me.

Calming confidence. All of the great leaders I’ve had the benefit of coming into contact with, in any walk of life, always seem to be calm and in control. Even if they are struggling with decisions internally or behind closed doors, their peers and the people that follow them never see it. If the leader is stressed, anxious, worried, etc., then the rest will surely begin to take that on.

Conviction. Leaders make decisions. It’s pretty much the entire job. To do so strongly, with conviction, sends a message to the team that you have thought through your decision and you believe it to be the best path forward. I personally like to make sure I hear people out and take the time to digest their input before making a decision. But at a certain point the leader has to draw a line in the sand and make a decision. Which leads me to…

Decisiveness. Listening to your team and weighing the pros and cons is important, but waiting too long to make a decision is debilitating to the team and can make a leader look like they can’t make the decision. Which leads to a lack of confidence from the team, which is not good. Be confident in your decisions but no matter what, make decisions. Which then leads me to…

Admit mistakes. While its very important to have conviction, you can’t be so steadfast in your views that you can’t pull back, admit you were wrong and commit to another solution. I’ve written ad nauseum about admitting mistakes on this blog. Probably because I make so many of them.

The ability to delegate. I’ve seen so many up-and-coming leaders who can’t ever make that next step because they just can’t delegate. To me, this is the one leadership quality that will make or break you. If you’re not delegating, you’re not leading.

* ~ if you’re interested, here are more blindposts from me. Also, the concept seems to have legs as @drewhawkins recently wrote a blindpost on his blog. Nice work, DH.

  • Joe Koufman

    Nice #HumbleBrag on your last point… ;-]

  • Jeff Hilimire

    LOL, you mean about delegating? Some people would call me lazy for delegating so much ;)

  • Joe Koufman

    No I mean: “Also, the concept seems to have legs as @drewhawkins recently wrote a blindpost on his blog. Nice work, DH.”

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  • Tom Lynch

    Good stuff Jeff, this is right on. This in particular struck me as incredibly applicable, “…waiting too long to make a decision is debilitating to the team “.

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Thanks, Tom. I do find this to be one of the most difficult things for a leader to do. Appreciate the note!

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