Defining what makes a great leader is risky business. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some shuffle about in flip-flops and others are dressed in crisply pressed, impeccably tailored suits. Some speak softly and some tread heavily. How can a person possibly, then, outline what it takes to be an effective leader? Well, rather than look at the differences between leaders like Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Warren Buffet, or Gabrielle Giffords, examine what these exceptional people all have in common.

Great leaders inspire those around them with enthusiasm. They know the right things to say to motivate and energize others into action. They do this by helping others realize their own power that lays within themselves. Effective leadership empowers the people they are guiding, revealing to them their own ability to succeed. True leadership builds confidence rather than destroys morale. These are the key commonalities of great leadership according to Dale Carnegie Training chief executive, Peter Handal.

Do you have these qualities? If you don’t, don’t worry. The great news is that if you practice the habit of effective time management – you can then make time for personal development and become the best leader you can be. Ask yourself these five questions and see if you already have the basic key ingredients:

  1. Are you courageous when faced with a challenge? Handal says, “Employees need to see their leaders out there, confronting that reality head-on.”
  2. Do those who look to you for leadership trust you? “When people know that you aren’t going to berate them and that you have their best interests at heart, they’re going to trust you,” Handal explains.
  3. Are you genuine? Handal’s advice to leaders: “Use your strengths and personality traits to develop your personal leadership style.”
  4. Do you operate according to the philosophy that respect is earned? “Leaders who are perceived as not ‘walking their talk’ typically don’t get very far,” Handal points out.
  5. Are you naturally curious? “The most successful leaders I know are truly very curious people. They’re interested in the things around them and that contributes to their vision,” Handal says.

If you answered positively to these questions, congratulations! You are a natural born leader. And, even if you answered no to one or more, you now know the qualities that need to be developed and improved upon. And resources are readily available to help anyone hone their existing leadership abilities or develop skills that are completely lacking. Buy a book, sign up for a class, log on to a website, watch an inspiring video, surf the web and read articles. The options are endless and adaptable to any lifestyle and schedule.

And everyone can benefit from leadership skills. You don’t have to be a bank president to need leadership skills. Do you have children? You are a leader. Do you have younger siblings? You are a leader. Do you have a group of friends that look to you for great ideas from time to time? You are a leader. Do you have co-workers? You are a leader. Do you enjoy spending time alone? Even then, you are a leader. So, start now becoming the most effective leader you can be!


Written by Gemma