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What Makes a Great Leader?
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By Mark Paul

Whether you are leading a small project, starting a company, or running a 30-year old, $300 million a year business, as the Chief Executive Officer, several characteristics set you apart. These attributes allow you to lead people to great accomplishments. A close assessment of the personal traits described below should reveal something about yourself: Are you balanced in these areas? Are there areas of weakness that need bolstering? Do you feel uncomfortable with some traits but not others? There is no one right answer to these questions. However, a better understanding of personal dynamics may make you an even better leader.

Developing leadership traits takes time; sometimes years. Some CEOs feel uncomfortable in their position, usually because the demands placed on them may run counter to their basic nature. If you do not naturally enjoy talking to large groups, you will have trouble holding company-wide meetings, or communicating with the press. If your vision or direction is unclear, people will have trouble following you. If you are highly flexible, employees may feel you are inconsistent in your demands on them. To better prepare yourself for continuing your journey as CEO and taking your company to even greater heights, take a moment to see where your strengths lie, and determine how you can best use these strengths to lead your company.

Personable: The ability to foster follower-ship is at the essence of leadership. This is reflected in the CEO’s ability to talk with people at their level, take positive steps to praise and congratulate employees in public, be easy to work with and for, motivate employees to exceptional personal performance, and celebrate projects’ successes. It also manifests itself in the ability to listen and be a team player. Leaders put people before goals by showing generosity and compassion.

There are two other very important people-oriented characteristics:

Communicates well: Being able to clearly and concisely communicate your ideas and vision, both in writing and verbally, helps stakeholders appreciate and understand CEOs.


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