The aim of this article is to explore the four traits that I believe are embodied by great leaders, and ones that can be applied across a range of different disciplines. Is there a common trait that you see in the people that inspire you? Let me know in the comments below!
1. Uncompromising, principled and educated beliefs.
By not following crowd logic, and by choosing to carry out their own assessment of a situation and reach unbiased conclusions, natural leaders set themselves apart from their contemporaries. They’re almost unreasonable. Bob Dylan is one example of this, a singer/songwriter famous for his classical music, played on an acoustic guitar. He made the decision to switch to electric guitar, facing much criticism*, but seeing it as the future of music and sticking to it.
*most notably being called Judas at one point during a concert; he responded by telling his band to “play it fucking loud!” in complete defiance.
2. Singular Focus.
By remaining completely focused on clearly defined goals, you do not spend time/money/effort in the pursuit of other goals, or allow anything to distract you from your path. When Apple founder Steve Jobs returned to Apple after being fired 11 years prior, he immediately removed many product lines, ensuring that the company could focus its efforts on fewer devices. This led to Apple becoming profitable, and eventually, one of the largest companies in the world.
I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.
3. A Higher Calling.
This drives ambition harder than material gain ever can. There are many different paths to material gain, and these can all distract from each other, as weariness increases the desire for quicker reward. Spiritual goals demand a less flexible approach, and a more dedicated one. After recovering from cancer treatment in 1996, the cyclist Lance Armstrong returned to training and eventually won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times. He stated on his return that he had “…decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden”.
Lance Armstrong went on to start LIVESTRONG, an organisation that supports people living with cancer and acts as a world representative for the cancer community. Click the logo to learn more about what they do.
4. Long term success, not instant gratification.
By turning down shortcuts and the easy way out, they show they are committed to following through with their visions, and are not easily swayed. Click here to listen to the story of a struggling actor turning down the easy option to star in his own film, which became an all-time classic.
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