Arti Khanna combines more than 23 years of technology and business experience in communications to look at emerging trends and incubate new initiatives in communications and applied verticals.

I have seen leadership to be the single most influencing factor in realizing the end goal — the one difference between success and failure. While it is true that resources, capabilities, assets, tools, stimuli are all important, none of these emerge as being truly decisive.

It is no wonder then that leadership has been written about more than any other subject. And yet there is no common definition. There are some dimensions that are unquestioned, but many more that are constantly added to fit the context of the environment we operate in. The list can be as long as one’s imagination and experience — and yet the reality is that the core essence of leadership can be captured in a small capsule of a few high-impact dimensions.

In today’s interlinked global economy, an environment of constant evolution, radical implications and irrational business expectations, spurred by innovation in technology, has been created. Leadership in such a complex ecosystem sounds like a daunting task, and yet history provides with ample evidence that nothing but sound fundamentals pass the test of time and change.

Leadership is not about burning ambition but combining realism with moderation. Leadership is simply about adaptability.

A good leader who focuses on the basics is geared up to face the challenges and ride on toward the end goal and achieve success.

Priorities of a good leader: Leadership is not about generating consensus but setting clear direction and facilitating an effective collaboration to accomplish the goals. Leaders should:

  1. Harmonize different resources toward a common goal.
  2. Start with a well-developed plan but execute with the flexibility to adapt to changes.
  3. Foresee change by keeping a receptive mind and make the effort to constantly investigate and think things over. Leaders should also be able to take advantage of emerging situations and manipulate the advantage to create further change.
  4. Secure foreknowledge to develop a clear perspective of the capabilities of self, opposition and environment.
  5. Demonstrate patience and self-restraint and the ability to strike at the right time when there is something is to be gained.
  6. Take swift and decisive action to unleash full energy — speed and direction are both important.
  7. Nurture team spirit and administrating in a transparent and equitable way.

Characteristics of a good leader: A good leader is of sound character, balanced in his actions and fair in his dealings. He is disciplined in his efforts and minimizes emotional influences. A good leader:

  1. Weighs situations before every move.
  2. Is open and receptive to a variety of perspectives.
  3. Is aware and guards against inherent risks.
  4. Acts to win, takes calculated risk, but avoids needless risks.
  5. Demonstrates courage to override obstacles.
  6. Is adaptable and flexible — constantly looks to take the indirect path and to do the unexpected.

It is for each of us to put these definitions to the test of our own experiences and define the course to take on the path of success in our businesses and personal lives.

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8 Responses to “The 6 characteristics of a good leader”

  1. A.G. says:

    Nicely written article, very helpful to minimize mistakes that many leaders make these days.

  2. jastanle84 says:

    Great article. It gives the fundamentals a leader should have to be successful. Maybe if the author cited their comments from prominent resources then the article would be more believable.

  3. Lyn Boyer says:

    I enjoyed your perspective on leadership. I was struck by your comment that "Leadership is not about generating consensus but setting clear direction and facilitating an effective collaboration to accomplish the goals." Sometimes, it is difficult to determine which is most important. I believe a good leader sets a direction and is also willing to listen to others to learn the best way to get there. Sometimes the direction changes a bit. That may be the true challenge of leadership. What are the unchangeable coordinates? What can be modified?

  4. Arti Khanna says:

    Addressing the question on references & citations: The article mostly captures my learning from last few years – watching events unfold around me in the telecom industry (and i have been associated with initiatives that have been seen both successes & failures). But i believe my views have somewhere also been influenced by Sun Tzu’s Art of War. If you get a chance read it – but look to interpret its insights not from the perspective of strategy, tactics & controlled execution – but more to understand and appreciate what makes a true leader. The book is written over 13 chapters and covers steps involved in planning, preparing and engaging in war – at times it becomes difficult to relate to and you will need to extract the relevant interpretation – but it provides a fresh perspective. I was especially fascinated to see the simple message that success is not driven by burning ambition but grounded by moderation and reality.

  5. [...] to SmartBlog on Leadership, to realize your end goal, you must utilize all of your resources, capabilities, and knowledge to [...]

  6. Diana says:

    Very good six characteristics of a good leader. I followed Toronto leadership training camp and I learned about these. A good leader should know how to listen, to communicate with the team members, to come up with ideas to improve the business as well and many more. It's not that easy to lead….

  7. Yuvarajah says:

    Great insights.

    I have a different view on "Success is not driven by burning ambition but grounded by moderation and reality". But, what if the reality is treatening the very survival of the entity and followers chose moderation which happens to be the path of least resistance. Sometimes, it takes courage to do what is right in being visionary (idealistic) and zealous, when the going gets tough. There is nothing wrong with burning ambition so long as it is team is willing to step up to ride the challenge collaboratively. Some situations require leaders to adapt to beyond mere moderation and average undertaking. In the end, success is not about the destination (achievement of goals), rather the journey of endurance and accomplishment in arriving at the destination. Far too many people give ore credit to the defination of leadership success on leaders and the results, as opposed to the followers and process of leading. That's why leadership have failed miserably in entrenching teamwork and collaboration in organisational cultures.

  8. And presumably is superhuman as well! great list of priorities and characteristics, but what if the solution is not well understood? What if the problem is not well understood? Take global warming, or Syria, or the Euro crisis.

    Good leaders ask questions, recognising they don't have all the answers. We demand too much of the people trying to solve some of the world's most difficult problems, and forget they are human too.