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How to become a leader

Updated on September 10, 2010


     The most important character traits of a leader are humility; the willingness to give up power; courage; integrity; and love and passion for the people, values and missions of the organization. (Anonymous)



     Most people want to be a leader but few become leaders. It takes a number of qualities that connect a person to a large number of other people to become a leader. While leadership can be imposed from above by virtue of having access to a position of power, this kind of leadership is not true leadership. It is short lived unless such a leader gains a place in the heart of people, otherwise, no one would take you seriously. To be a true leader it takes knowledge, being a role model, having ethics, motivation or desire and people skills.

     To be a great leader you have to be successful at achieving change. Making change successfully is a leader’s greatest challenge. It is not by accident that America’s greatest presidents – Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt – all led winning wars that produced great and positive change: the birth of a nation, and the elimination of slavery. 

      Business leaders too are often expected to successfully meet the challenges of change. For instance, what Mannie Jackson did is what all great leaders do. They spot a need or opportunity or simply develop a passion. They take a risk. They envision what positive consequential change will look like and what will be needed to achieve it. They put together a plan. Then they work hard and celebrate successes when they happen. This was the approach Mannie adopted in bringing back to life Harlem Globetrotters business. He published his experiences in a Harvard Business Review article titled “Bringing a Dying Brand Back to life”.

     Outstanding leaders integrate emotional realities into what they see and so instill strategy with meaning and resonance. Emotions are contagious, particularly when exhibited by those at the top, and extremely successful leaders display a high level of positive energy that spreads throughout the organization


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