- Honesty and integrity are critical; if a leader is dishonest they will lose followers quickly.
- Prosociality is voluntarily acting in ways that benefit others. Leaders who look for the good of the group will be followed more than those who only focus on their own interests.
- Humility. A synonym for humility is “down-to-earth,” and I think good leaders exemplify this quality. Not only are they approachable and human, they are realistic in their assessment of themselves (meaning that self-awareness should be part of this list). A realistic view of oneself will ensure that a leader sees that there is always room for improvement, that they will always have weaknesses and flaws, that they need others in order to be successful. They will see that arrogance is nonadaptive in the long run.
- Confidence. Confidence must also be based on realism. If one has a track record of success in a given area, one should feel confident that they can continue to be successful. Reality-based confidence in oneself inspires others to follow.
- Inhibition mixed with power drive. I agree with David McClelland* that the best leaders seem to have a high need for power combined with high inhibition. They want to have an impact on the world, but they do so for the benefit of the whole rather than themselves alone.
- A drive for results. Without results one does not stay a leader very long.
- Openness to experience. Without a willingness to expand, experiment, and learn it will be impossible to adapt to the changing of the environment.
By Mario Sikora Part of an ongoing series of articles on clear-thinking skills, excerpted from “How to Think Well, and Why: The Awareness to Action Guide to Clear Thinking” by Mario Sikora (available at www.awarenesstoactionbooks.com). The ATA Questionnaire The ATA...