There have been millions of words written about leadership. Here are 788 more to add to your collection. And, in this case, these are critical to your success in leading others. Why not rate your own performance against these ten characteristics. It’s a great way to start growing your leadership skills.

Leaders Make Others Feel Important: The last thing a leader needs to be is self-centered. Leadership is about service to others, i.e. those we lead. If our actions as leaders work on development of employee strengths and contributions, we are taking the right path. If our actions are only concerned with promoting our own career at the expense of those we lead, we are moving on a path of career destruction. When we make others feel important, we become important.

Leaders Promote a Vision: We must know where we are going before we can successfully lead others to a destination. By making it very clear what our goal is and how valuable it is to our employees’ growth and success, we increase accomplishment of the vision. When workers sense there is something in it for them, their interest and motivation increases. We must provide vision before employees can “see” their future. Share the vision and preach the “gospel” at every opportunity.

Leaders Treat Others as They Want To Be Treated: When we practice the Golden Rule, we create an atmosphere that employees enjoy being a part of and, at the same time, create a more loyal following. Abuse has no place in the work setting. Remember it’s all about service and that means we always treat others in a civil and courteous manner even when we are providing honest and direct constructive criticism.

Leaders Understand They Can Sometimes Be Wrong: When workers sense we are “human,” they come to appreciate our leadership style. Never cover up mistakes or shift the blame to others when we are at fault. It’s not easy to say “I’m wrong” but it’s a necessary part of the leadership role. If workers see us hiding our mistakes, it won’t be too long before they will do the same. Then, we miss having important information to help us make critical decisions. Walk the talk and workers will do the same.

Leaders Never Admonish a Worker In Front of Their Peers: Yes, sometimes we want to vent quickly when we sense a worker messed up. It’s a natural human inclination. But, we must resist this natural tendency and find a private setting in which to express our thoughts. Embarrassment should never be our intent. Correcting poor performance is best done privately in a one-on-one setting.

Leaders Have A High Presence: We cannot manage a workforce by staying in our office. I’ve seen leaders lose their job because they did not know what was going on in the workplace they were charged to lead. Managing by walking around is not just a fad but a key component of effective leadership. We must stay close to the action, talk to those we lead, ask questions, and get a sense of what is happening in the workplace. By being a keen and frequent observer, we become better informed, better able to correct situations, and better able to provide a bit of motivation for our followers.

Leaders Introduce a Bit of Self-Competition: Improvement comes when we constantly seek to carry out our responsibilities at a higher performance level. Competition starts with us and moves on to the entire team. It’s OK to have a bit of competition in your team. Along with self-competition comes self-examination. Competition demands we evaluate performance and doing so is how we get better.

Leaders are Flexible: No matter how hard we try, we will make decisions that need to be adjusted. Being rigid when flexibility is needed will “break” our course of action and ultimately lead us to failure. Let people know why the change is needed, put the bad decision behind you, learn the lesson, and move full speed ahead. That’s true flexibility.

Leaders Develop Their Followers: We need others to help us succeed. By developing the skills of your team members, we strengthen our potential to reach our goals. The power of two or more is always greater than the power of one. Also, when we develop people under our leadership, we open the possibility of creating a successor who can take over our job responsibilities and allow us to move further up the chain of leadership within our organization. That’s forward thinking.

Leaders Have A Sense of Humor: It’s always better to laugh at ourselves than to have others laugh at us. Being able to do this makes us human and the benefit of this is that our followers will be better able to relate to us. And, humor has a physiological benefit to relieve workplace stress. It also helps to release our creative juices, helps interpersonal relationships, and can be a great teaching tool. If we can laugh at ourselves, we will not be afraid to try new things. So laugh!

Author's Bio: 

Billy Arcement, MEd—The Leadership Strategist, is a professional speaker / consultant / author and President of The Results Group. For questions about this article, call him at 225-677-9426 or email Learn more about his services at © 2009 The Results Group.