3 Critical Leadership Traits

re:publica 2009

Image via Wikipedia

[tweetmeme]It seems that books, articles, and blogs on leadership are everywhere you look.  There are leadership discussions on several LinkedIn groups and even a live Twitter discussion every Thursday on the topic.  Why is there such a fascination with leadership qualities?  Excellent leadership is evasive in today’s business world and we long for good leadership.

I was asked to submit my opinion of the top 3 leadership qualities to a blog poll recently.  These polls and discussions are a great way to explore the topic and for individuals to identify self-improvement opportunities.  I was pleased to participate.  At the same time, books are written on the topic of leadership.  Books are even written on individual leadership attributes.  I recognize that summarizing leadership in 3 words leaves much to be explored.  Having said that, here are the 3 critical leadership traits I submitted:

1)  Character: Character fuels many of the attributes needed to be a great leader.  A lack of character will erode at a leader’s credibility until people no longer want to follow. Some leaders are even removed from their position of authority when their scandals come to light. My recent post on Character and Leadership explored this further.

2)  Vision: Leaders must be able to see the future, communicate the vision, and set priorities.  As Peter Drucker said:  Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.

Former basketball player Michael Jordan

Image via Wikipedia

3)  Passion: Passion fuels the desire for excellence.  Passion is what makes the difference between good and great.  Passion fueled the desire for Michael Jordan to be the best of the best.  There were others with the same talent, but only one Michael Jordan.  The leader without passion is watching the clock.  The passionate leader looks at the clock and realizes he missed his train.

Do you have the character, vision, and passion to be great?[tweetmeme]

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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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11 Responses to 3 Critical Leadership Traits

  1. Pingback: Leading out of crisis – GDP(3/4) | GrantGift.com | US Government Grants for Free!

  2. Pingback: 3 Critical Leadership Traits | Life's Lessons in the 21st Century « Five Little Rules

  3. Passion is important for a leader. But the CEO of my former bank felt the most important quality for a leader was COMpassion. By that, he meant feeling the pain of others, and offering encouragement and support especially when times are tough. I would say that not enough CEOs today are compassionate towards employees who are laid off. Out the door with a half hour to pack their personal belongings.

  4. Jeanette,

    Compassion for their people is an important trait as well. I don’t believe that leaders can sustain long term excellence without concern for their team. Thanks for your comments.


  5. I believe that passion is the driving force behind any successful business. But undirected passion can be a total failure. You have to have a plan in place to guide your passion.

  6. Gina says:

    Great Post- Completely agree. You don’t hear about character too often these days. Most are concerned with other traits- but fail to look at the true character of the person. If you see that- you will have a good idea of how your relationship will turn out.

    • Gina,

      Thanks for your insight. Character has a lot to do with the chemistry we often hear people talking about when hiring or in the job market. These relationships will be strained if you don’t see eye-to-eye on the character issues. Thank you again.


  7. Rachel says:

    Defining leadership is so difficult and I agree when it is said that “character” is very rarely mentioned as an important quality of good leadership. Also in my opinion…a good leader is never actually identified as such because the reality is that what is usually “right” is not usual popular or welcomed. Good leaders are rarely liked but seem to be respected regardless – which is so odd to me.

    I also believe that when we discuss the good qualities of Leadership….a good leader asks the question of themselves, “am I doing….” rather than a bad one which would question “why don’t you….”

    I read a great book called the DNA of Leadership it was such a great read and it really set me on the path of questioning what is good leadership.

    • Rachel,

      Thank you for contributing. You bring great insight to the discussion. Some, if not all, of the greatest leaders were polarizing while taking their organization through a crisis because the popular way is not necessarily the right way.

      Thanks again,

  8. Allan Hovis says:

    Yes, if we want to lead correctly, we should have these qualities, but I would also add responsibility, self-confidence, far-minded, capacity of taking the right decisions for the company’s sake and to succeed with it plus many more.
    I’ve learned interesting things regarding this subject at Toronto strategy consultant courses, which were last year…

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