“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams
There’s more than what meets the eye with President Adam’s words. According to author and motivational speaker, Susan Cain, men like President Adams lived in a culture of character, where a person’s character was more important than his title or his wealth. Cain argues that with the industrial revolution, there was another revolution within society that changed all that and laid the foundations for a culture of personality. Leaders were no longer required to possess a strong character, as long as they possessed a charming personality so that they could communicate with anyone, at any time, without any inhibitions. The problem with this shift in society has been that not many leaders understand what it really means to be in a leadership position. So, what are the traits of leadership that distinguish the leaders from the followers? Let’s find out.
Going beyond the call of duty
Followers are completely at ease with the status quo. They focus on their job, and nothing else. Going beyond the job description never occurs to them as they get busy with maintaining their comfort zone on a day-to-day basis. Meanwhile, leaders see their job description as the foundation to build a great legacy. They actively look for opportunities to make things better by adding value at every stage of their work.
Optimism and confidence in people
While leaders look for opportunities, followers look for limitations that can be turned into excuses for not accomplishing tasks. When things go wrong, followers focus on those excuses, while leaders rely on the people they have nurtured over the course of time to make things better. The skills of other people do not intimidate leaders, instead, they see those skills as a resource that can be applied as the situation demands and turn weaknesses into strengths.
Adaptability to change
The inevitability of change does not scare leaders. Followers, on the other hand, are not adept at handling change in any situation as they grow comfortable with the status quo. As a result, when faced with the challenges that change brings about, follower falter and things start going wrong in more than one way, while leaders coast through the situation and ensure that it delivers an added value to their work.
Mistakes happen and are often integral to the growth of an individual as well the team or organisation. However, mistakes often reveal the true character of a follower as they quickly begin to look for excuses and someone to blame the mistakes upon.
Leaders, on the other hand, know the crucial role mistakes play in their growth and are quick to accept responsibility for all of their actions.
The yearning to learn
Leaders understand that a leadership position demands constant learning. Their thirst for learning is unquenchable. They do not care about the source of this learning, as long as they can learn and apply the new knowledge to improve themselves and their team’s output. Followers, however, are always engrossed in showing off that they know everything. As a result, they often miss out on every single opportunity to learn and improve themselves.
These are just a few of the top factors that make a leader. The point to note here is that none of these factors makes any mention of title or position within the organisation. Everyone has, at some point in time, worked for someone who held a title, but was not a leader. That’s because true leaders are not limited by definitions provided by a title. They can come from anywhere in the organisation and surprise everyone with their abilities and leadership skills.