When I think about leadership, I think about the ability to influence others to achieve a common goal. I’ve taken many courses and read many books on the topic of leadership. If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m a big fan of the topic. Yet, through all my studies, leadership is still somewhat of a mystery. There is no specific blueprint to follow when it comes to leadership development.

The good news is that we know we can develop leadership skills. The “Great Man” theory, which believed great leaders had to be born, was wrong. Yes, you need a certain level of intelligence, but you can develop leadership skills. We now know that social and emotional intelligence is a big part of leadership. Perhaps the greatest trait of top performing leaders is self-awareness.

Leadership development aside, when I look back upon my life story, I had three leaders who influenced me. They weren’t CEOs, battle field generals, or presidents,  yet they had something special. They motivated me to improve.

So who were these great leaders? They were a high school football coach, a grammar school teacher, and a manager.

Below are three traits these leaders had in common:

  1. Integrity and Courage – They were not afraid to stand up for what was right, even if it went against a group. It takes tremendous courage to do the right thing when it’s not popular. Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, it is doing the right thing in the face of fear.
  2. Caring –  They cared about people and wanted to help others. They were not self-centered. They were about others and a higher purpose, not about themselves.
  3. Toughness –  They were tough and showed great resilience and persistence when faced with challenges.

What has your experience been like? What does leadership mean to you?

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