Essential leadership characteristics

We have been asked to identify: What are the three leadership characteristics which will be essential in your country in the near future? I have cheated, and picked four characteristics I believe are essential.

Leaders must have both a passion and commitment for delivering a better world. To be a good leader, you should be motivated by more than material goods. Power should be a means to an end; something you seek to right the injustice that blights our world, and to give away to the people and communities that have none. This passion and commitment should leave you restless.

Good leaders are also aware of their own deficiencies. To avoid the entitlement and arrogance that leads to – at best – ineffective and – at worst – tyrannical leadership,  leaders must be humble and open to challenge. They must seek genuine feedback and self-improvement. And they must not be afraid to surround themselves with the best people – committing to grow, develop and empower these people; leaders should have the confidence to build a brilliant team, rather than feeling threatened by brilliant people. 

The best leaders are empathetic. They are able to both understand what motivates people who think differently to them, and to build meaningful relationships with the people they work with. Leaders must be capable of both connecting with people and making decisions based on their lived experience. At a time of increasing anxiety, division and loneliness, this is more important than ever. To do this, leaders must not be afraid to be vulnerable. Vulnerability reminds people that we are all human. It breaks down the barriers that foster mistrust and builds the bonds necessary for a better world.

Finally, leaders should seek to understand policy detail so they can ask the right questions. But they should also be able to see the big picture. This will help them move beyond the minutiae and understand how decisions will work in practice. They should be able to think three steps ahead, recognising how a policy decision will unfold in the real world and seeing the various connections between events, people and things that will impact its delivery.


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