What makes great leaders? Are they flawless? In fact, no leader is perfect and every leader is flawed. What makes a leader extraordinary is having profound strengths and being able to compensate for weakness. It’s not the absence of flaws that makes a leader extraordinary – it’s the presence of strengths.
Extraordinary leaders have inner greatness, built on authenticity and depth of character. Inner greatness is activated by several attributes:
There are several ways to attain the attributes of inner greatness:
- show integrity
- show credibility
- show character
- show hope
A leader develops ethics by showing integrity when seeking to influence or persuade. There are several strategies to influence with integrity:
- coercion – Even though coercion can be an effective way of influencing, it can often produce negative side-effects
- sincerity – Although sincerity is another strategy to influence – especially when the other person knows little about the issue – faked sincerity lacks integrity.
- commitment – When trying to get people to commit to a proposal or plan, good leaders disclose the full implications of such plans from the outset.
- appeal to human nature – Another strategy is to influence by appealing to human nature – but human nature shouldn’t be exploited.
An extraordinary leader attains a sense of reality by showing credibility. When you show credibility, you instill trust and passion in others. It’s essential that others believe in you – and that requires you are trustworthy, passionate, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and competent.
You develop credibility by engaging in the five practices of extraordinary leadership:
- enable others to act by creating an environment in which others can perform well.
- share an inspiring vision, which should be a collection of exciting and inspiring possibilities.
- challenge existing processes in the search for opportunities to innovate, grow, and improve.
- encourage others, which can be done by acknowledging others’ contributions.
- model the way, which means modeling the behavior you want to see from others
A leader attains courage by showing character. It’s a leader’s strong character that creates and sustains an organization’s success. Leadership built on strong character is required throughout the organization, and must be evident at every level.
One way to show character as a leader is through presence and visibility. This presence can’t be token or symbolic.
Another element of an extraordinary leader’s character is decisiveness. As a leader, you’ll often have to make critical decisions that could expose the organization to risks – even when you don’t have all the necessary information.
One fundamental quality of leadership character is that it’s based on a foundation of integrity, with a balance of equity and responsibility. This means leadership that’s impartial and fair, while also doing what needs to be done to lead.
There are some basic guidelines to show you’re acting in a fair and equitable way.
- be honest and open about the decision
- ensure processes are transparent
- listen to everyone’s view
- effectively communicate
Hope comes from inspiration. Showing hope by giving inspiration is how an extraordinary leader attains vision. As a leader, you can show hope in a number of ways:
- charm and humor
Extraordinary leaders have inner greatness. A leader’s inner greatness stems from the activation of the four unique attributes of vision, reality, ethics, and courage.
A leader attains a sense of ethics by showing integrity, particularly when seeking to influence or persuade. A sense of reality comes from showing credibility, which is when the leader is held to be trustworthy, passionate, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and competent. Courage is attained by showing character.