Leadership is never easy. To lead well requires unique abilities:
1. Ability to stand alone. You don’t have to always stand alone as a leader. In fact, that should never be the goal, but there will be times when it takes others time to catch the vision you are certain you have been called to lead. There will be days when everyone appears a critic. You’ll still have to lead. That’s why not everyone is willing to lead.
2. Ability to see what others can’t see. Leaders are taking people into the unknown. They see beyond the clutter of today into a bigger picture, a brighter reality. Many times, they can view the end goal—as blurry as it may be—before others can. That’s why people need a leader.
3. Ability to think beyond today. Leadership is different from managing. It’s not about maintaining systems. It’s about what’s next. What’s ahead. What’s yet to be realized. That requires a more heads-up than heads-down approach. Not everyone has that ability.
4. Ability to cast a vision. People need to know the why behind the what. They need something to inspire them for the difficult days ahead. Good leaders can communicate effectively, share passion and motivate others to endure and succeed.
5. Ability to include people in the process. Leaders have a unique understanding that they can’t complete the task without the assistance of others. Genuine leaders share credit and acknowledge the contributions of those they lead. There is little room for selfishness or dictatorial control in good leadership.
6. Ability to make the first move. Leaders aren’t intimidated by fear or the unknown. They aren’t emotionless, but they know the journey to victory begins with the first step—and they will lead others in taking that step. This ability alone eliminates many from the field of leadership.
7. Ability to stay when others are leaving. There will be times of chaos when everything seems to be falling apart. The leader holds the banner of stability, pointing people back to the vision, reminding them of the rewards for staying the course.
Certainly there are others, and I welcome you to share them. I’m also certain there have been great leaders who don’t have all seven of these, but good leadership will require each of these at some point. And great leaders, in my opinion, display each one often or when required.