What Does it Take to Be a Leader?

3 Basic Points are What it Takes to Be an Influential Leader

There's a reason why we can have only one prominent figure to lead and inspire the masses. So what does it takes to be a leader? Well, the traits and characteristics that set the leader apart from the masses while allowing the masses to identify with him/ her at the same time are what forms the subject matter of discussion in the following write up.
SocialMettle Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this age, when people speak about leadership, they either allude to management or politics. In ancient ages, leadership was all about politics and war. Well, come to think of it, with politics being common, there isn't much difference between leadership in the face of a war or leadership in the face of organizational management as both require the leader to make the masses come together for achieving a common objective. Okay, let's just forget about politics, management and war and focus on leadership alone. Referring to leadership in its quintessential, unattributed form, what does it take to be a leader? How is an ideal leader different from those who he leads and, at the same time, one with them? Let's find out what goes into the making of a true leader from the following paragraphs.

What Does it Take to Be a Good Leader?

In order to be able to lead, an individual must have a set of qualities, leader like traits, leadership skills and individual characteristics which he/she must combine in the right proportions to unite and motivate the masses towards the achievement of a common goal. Most of the time, it is the right combination of certain opposing attributes that mark the making of a true leader. Let's take a look at the necessary ingredients that make up the essential recipe for leadership.

Confidence and Self-Esteem
You can't command respect and obedience from others unless you respect and believe in yourself. Obedience is essential for unifying and motivating any group of people to achieve an objective and one typical quirk about human nature is that we human beings tend to show obedience either out of fear or out of respect. The obedience that comes from respect is a very positive sentiment as it motivates people to give their best and put in extra efforts while obedience that comes from fear diminishes the value addition quotient over time as resentment builds up. If you exude confidence in your beliefs and ideals and value your own dignity, chances are high that others will respect you and ultimately support your visions.

Walk the Talk
The best way to inspire desired action from one's followers is to set examples. If you wish to instill discipline, integrity and high moral standards in your followers, it is better to practice yourself what you preach. This reinforces the idea that you truly believe in your ideals and this makes it all the more easy and pleasant for others to adopt those ideals when they see you walking the talk.

Be All Ears
One of the most important responsibilities of a good leader is to listen to and understand the problems and issues of others. Whether or not you are able to solve them or suggest a solution, it is a great comfort for a troubled person to have someone understanding to talk to about his/her problems. Be the shoulder to cry if necessary - nothing builds confidence in inter personal relationships better than patient listening and empathy.

Stick to Commitments
Don't commit anything unless you're absolutely sure that you'll be able to fulfill them. If you're unable to stick to your words, it just shows others that you cannot be relied on. How can people see as their leader someone whom they cannot place their trusts in?

Consistency of Vision
You must be consistent in your ideals and beliefs for others to support and follow them. If you yourself keep flipping between different ideas and keep changing your opinions to suit the environment, that does terrible things to the confidence of your followers. You need to be rock solid about your beliefs and ideals and your focus should be unwavering. Only then can you expect others to have confidence in you and adopt your ideals. You see, confidence is a contagious thing and people tend to pick it up from external sources. Be the source!

Courage of Conviction
Courage is something one is either born with or acquires in the face of tremendous adversity. Whatever the case, a leader needs to have tons of courage to stick to his beliefs and face all kinds of opposition in order to inspire the same strength of conviction among his followers. Opposition is the greatest test of leadership and it is only by passing through the fire of adversities that the true glory of leadership shines bright - just as gold becomes valuable only after it is cast into fire!

Obstinate yet Flexible
A good leader must be a mixed bag of stubbornness and flexibility to successfully lead his people towards the desired goal. While he/she must be unyielding enough to stick to his principles and face and defeat all kinds of difficulties on the way to the goal, he/she must be flexible when it comes to the methods employed for achievement of the goal. Only this will allow for making a way when you cannot find one.

Passion and Compassion
Unyielding passion spreads like wildfire and a blazing passion for a set of beliefs and ideals is always caught like a flu by the masses. Passion is the key personality trait of a leader who wishes to bring about a revolution and blaze a trail different from others. Undying passion for attaining the desired objective and endless compassion for his people's problems, sufferings and tribulations is a lethal combination in a leader that very few people can resist getting drawn towards.

What Does it Take to Be a Successful Leader?

Besides the above leadership qualities, excellent communication skills, unmatched convincing prowess and oodles of charisma stir up the final touches that go in the making of great and successful leaders. Without good communication skills, it is often difficult to convince others of the practicality and righteousness of one's ideals and without convincing people to agree with your visions, you cannot motivate them to action. A charismatic personality acts as the cherry on the cake by making people feel eager to listen to you and pay closer attention to what you have to convey. Charisma inspires following and the other qualities mentioned above make such a following stick and click.

Above everything else, a leader must be honest! Deceit may get you followers for the time being but they won't stick around for long if you're not honest and do not possess strength of character. Besides being practical and a realist, a good leader must also be a visionary who is far-sighted enough to see the change in order to inspire the masses to act on bringing it along. Also, he/she must be able to successfully project it to his/her followers so that they share such a vision rather than act on blind faith alone. A leader must become that dynamic force which causes the machinery of the society to move in order to bring about a revolution that changes the times for the better. On a parting note, I would like to quote Harry Truman on his take on leadership:

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.