There are a myriad of characteristics attributed to great leaders in the literature on leadership. I’ve chosen five that are critical for everyone seeking to lead. Not fully appreciating or understanding the ramifications of not following these ideas can lead to misery for a leader. How do you rate and what is your current misery index?

Everyone is a leader. If one examines their life’s routines, it becomes easy to segment when leadership was part of the activity. Raising children? You’re a leader. Do you sometimes offer a helping hand to others in your workplace? You’re performing an important role of a leader. Ever undertake or oversee a work assignment in a professional or social organization? You guessed it, you were leading. The important concept is to see yourself as a leader whenever you are engaged in an activity that requires use of any leadership skill. Raise your antenna to pick up on those leadership opportunities. Constantly seek to increase your skill level and soon you may find yourself permanently performing that role.

People’s performance is a measure of our tolerance level. If you lead, think about the worst performer you have. Got that name and face in your mind? Well, let me break the news gently, that individual’s performance is what you are willing to tolerate. Some examples: An employee regularly comes in late. A worker doesn’t turn in their assignment within the agreed upon deadline. One worker has an excessive absentee record. Another worker consistently engages in personal confrontation with co-workers. If any of these examples happen and we take no corrective action, it’s what we are willing to tolerate. And, the bad news is if we accept this level of performance, the odds favor other workers cloning the behavior and soon we’ve got a department that is in total chaos.

Leadership is where the rubber meets the road. Every good or bad event within the workplace, the political arena or in a global context is in some way caused by good or bad leadership practices. Thus, great organizations will typically be lead by great leaders while poor performing organizations tend to be lead by weak leaders. What about your workplace? Is there a leadership deficit? Or, are the waters of leadership flowing throughout the organization creating a positive impact? If you approach your work responsibilities from the viewpoint of an effective leader, your growth opportunities are endless simply because it takes effective leadership to get the job done right. Yes, there are times when strong workers can cover for a weak leader but that is rare and not typical of workplace situations. Become a leader and watch your life change for the better.

Leaders understand that learning is a core requirement for creating a successful enterprise. While many will say knowledge is power, I say knowledge is only potential power. It’s the implementation of that knowledge that creates the kinetic power produced by action. Great leaders constantly challenge those under their charge to grow their knowledge base and then apply that learning to workplace activities. And, the greater the application of new knowledge, the greater the potential for organizational prosperity. If you lead, place that challenge in front of everyone under your supervision. Never let complacency overtake the work environment. Doing so allows the introduction of mediocrity, a surefire step down the ladder of failure.

Integrity is the cornerstone for building a solid foundation of leadership skills. If one lacks integrity, they lack the “guts” to do the things that must be done in order to grow their career, the organization, and those under their charge. We must be principled, dependable, and trustworthy; possess a sound moral character, and be consistent with our decisions. Never compromise the right thing for the wrong reason. Give your word and stand by it. Living with integrity requires a courageous stance when others might take the easy road. What are your travel plans?

Closing Thoughts

There is a tremendous void of great leaders in every segment of our society today. It saddens me to write that statement but my observations of the happenings in the world only reinforce that thought. My encouragement to you is to study the rudiments of leading others so you can be the best at carrying out that important task and become the shining example others strive to emulate. Then, hold yourself and others that can influence your life to the highest of leadership standards. There should be no tolerance for unethical behavior or for self-serving leaders. Leadership is truly about a willingness to serve others. I hope you are a willing servant!

Author's Bio: 

Professional speaker/author Billy Arcement, MEd—The Leadership Strategist, shares his messages on leadership and personal development with business, government and education leaders. He authored Searching For Success, now internationally published. His newest book, Journeying on Holy Ground, provides insightful guidance for establishing priorities on life’s journey. His website, provides information about his services. Email or call him @ 225-677-9426 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              225-677-9426      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Copyright 2010’