What qualities define today’s most successful business leaders? Naturally, we all have an idea of what differentiates great managers and true leaders — you don’t need to be in a workplace environment to realize it. The following list, however, happens to capture many of the most common traits that leaders share. How many do you possess? Start building on all: The world needs great leaders now, why couldn’t one of them be you? Consider our list of the 10 most important, universal qualities of great leaders.
STRENGTH: Leading others can be easy to do when things are going well, but you must also have the fortitude to push past any obstacle when the situation takes a turn for the worse. You need to be ready to protect your employees and stay true to your vision, and this requires strength — not physical strength alone (though that may come into play as the key element), but mental toughness, too.
PATIENCE: A patient leader can see the long road ahead and understand that it may take you a while to succeed. Fortitude and patience are key. When a team wants to move forward, the leader needs to spearhead the entire journey and make sure in a quiet way that all stays on course.
ADAPTABILITY: Business is constantly changing and so, as a leader, you must change along with it. You need to roll with the punches and own the mistakes that are made. If you must fail, then be certain that you fail fast, learn from the venture — and move on.
PASSION: You need to love and believe in what you are doing. Passionate people love what they do and can ignite that passion and fire in others when needed to keep going. Leaders have to have this trait.
CREATIVITY: Creative leaders can see the world in a unique way. You look at a blank piece of paper, they see a million possibilities. A sense of play comes along with being creative, which can make the process of idea generation an incredibly interesting game.
RESPECTABILITY: You don’t have to be loved or feared, but you do need to be respected — in fact, respect is likely the most important of any list of the qualities that define great leaders. You earn this respect through the work you do and the way you treat people. Simply put, if you are not respected, you will fail to lead.
INTELLIGENCE: Whether you are smart about people or business or both, intelligence is crucial to leadership. You must possess a knowledge of the company you lead and those within your team who build it. You don’t have to even be the smartest person in the room, but you do need to be smart enough to know how to find and inspire the best talent.
PRIDE: There is a risk in leading: You can become too self-obsessed or egotistical. You don’t need to go that far, but you must have pride. You need to be proud of the work that you put out, the projects you accomplish and the team that you work with. If you aren’t proud to own it, you have no business being in charge.
COMPASSION: There is more to life than work. Compassion is key to leading people, too, as you need to show you care (a bit of humanity can do wonders for morale). It’s a way to show you’re human, that you care, and if you reach out to those you lead, they won’t merely follow you and respect you, they will go the extra mile when you need it most.
INTUITION: Much of what you do in life can be accomplished through hard work, the rest can often be achieved through trusting your gut. Great leaders trust their gut and can use their instincts to help teams move from strength to strength, from making the right choice in terms of new hires to exploring innovative new ideas with the potential to grow the business.
Victoria Cairl writes about women and work. She's is the VP of Business Development at Show-Score.com, having previously worked at Lincoln Center, The Met Museum and Disney Theatrical. She is a mentor, feminist and an entrepreneur based in New York City.