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I and a colleague of mine began a couple of informal polls last week as a result of the response to a recent blog post in which I asked the question, “Leaders: what makes us want to follow them?“. We set up a questionnaire on Survey Monkey, asking participants to identify the top three leadership characteristics from among those I listed in the post.
So far, participants in that poll believe the top three leadership qualities are:
- Decisiveness (especially in a crisis);
- Doing what’s right (not what’s popular); and
- The ability to plan effectively.
Similarly, we asked members of a group on LinkedIn (Smart Leaders) an open-ended question: ”What do you feel are the two most important qualities a leader can have?” Participants in this case weren’t restricted to a list of a dozen or so items; instead, we wanted the first thing(s) that popped into their heads.
Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Naturally, responses are all over the place. Interestingly, a number objected to being limited to just two leadership qualities and gave us a half-dozen or more “most important” leadership qualities. For now, the two most important leadership qualities according to Smart Leaders are:
- Vision; and
There’s a host of other characteristics tied for 3rd place (e.g., courage, inspiration, empathy). As we get more responses from the LinkedIn group, the “top three” should become clearer. Of course, we’ll keep you updated.
Now it’s time to ask you — our readers — how you feel. What qualities do leaders need most, in your opinion? Are there two or three characteristics they need more than all the rest?
Do leaders need different qualities now than they did a decade ago, or a century ago? Are there people you work with who don’t have “leader” in their formal job title but are, in fact, leaders?
Thanks, and best wishes for the coming year,