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Recent leadership theories advance the notion that leaders are made and not born, stressing the fact that people aren't born with innate leadership skills, but they learn to become leaders and rise to the occasion. Nevertheless, a good leader needs to have a set of traits that inspire trust and respect in his followers. People will only follow a person who's earned their respect, and who motivates them to achieve a common goal and shared vision. An effective leader possesses good character traits that incite others to follow his guidance.
A good leader is the exponent of an honorable character, someone who fosters trust among his followers. People want to follow a leader they respect and one they can trust. A leader is ultimately made by his followers, and if you're unable to inspire trust and confidence in your followers, you won't be able to motivate them.
An effective and respective leader knows his job well and is familiar with all the tasks assigned to his followers. A subordinate who's aware that his leader doesn't know the mechanics of his job can never respect his leader. Likewise, leaders can't provide useful guidance to their followers if they're not familiar with their respective tasks.
A leader is committed to a common objective and shared vision. Leaders must be able to remind their followers of how important their roles are when demotivation strikes. A committed leader is able to foster a sense of responsibility and commitment in his followers and help them always perform their duties in a responsible manner.
An effective leader motivates his followers to work toward a common goal. A leader aims to develop a team spirit among his followers that yields a result that's greater than its parts. Good communications skills and understanding individual needs and concerns are both motivating factors that establish a positive rapport among team members.
Integrity and consistency are essential traits for every leader. An inconsistent leader will lose his credibility and bring about distrust among his followers. A leader should lead by example and remain true to his words; otherwise, he'll be considered unreliable and someone without great integrity.
An effective leader isn't afraid of change and the challenges it brings about. A leader seeks to guide his team to greater achievements, and when trouble strikes, he takes responsibility for his actions and adopts corrective measures rather than shifting blame to his subordinates.
A leader is optimistic and has a clearly laid out plan for how his team will achieve its common goals. A strong vision of the future motivates team members to collaborate for a shared purpose, and it's up to leaders to provide the vision of what could be to keep everyone focused and energized.
- "Situational Factors in Leadership"; John K. Hemphill; 1949