Friday, March 21, 2008

8 Attributes of a Leader

I looked up and found the following definition for who is a leader "a guiding and directing head". I then wondered if that is who is a leader what is it that makes a leader and I came up with the following attributes.


Every leader should have a goal. Without a goal the leader is rudderless. He has no direction. He should have a clear idea of what is it that needs to be achieved. With a goal in mind a leader should be able to chalk out a plan to achieve that goal.

Strategic Thinking

Thinking strategically is very important. A leader should be able to see things others don't. He should be able to visualize the path to the goal. This comes only on clarity of knowing what the goal is and understanding the path to the goal. There will be blind turns on the way to the goal but a leader should be one that identifies these turns and approaches them with proper risk measures and alternative routes. A leader should be able to think ahead of his team and guide them along the path.


A leader should follow the goal with passion. He should have the zeal to succeed and overcome all the obstacles. The goal will not be easy to achieve - it never is but with passion and dedication anything can be done.

Team Player

The team should believe in their leader. They should trust in the direction set by the leader and also believe that he is leading them in the right manner. A leader should on the other hand believe in their abilities and their skills and should be able to allocate the right task to the right person. Striving towards a goal is like a roller coaster there will be ups and downs. It is important for a leader to celebrate the ups with the team and lift the team up from the downs. He should be there with them at all times.


Having trust and belief in ones own ability and skill and also the ability and skill of his team is very important. Without belief comes self doubt and once this sets in it is hard to come out of it. You should have confidence in yourself and also that of your team that the goal can be achieved if you strive to achieve it.


There will be times when the team is down and needs to be motivated. A leader should be one that can talk in a convincing manner and should be able to lift up the team to attack a problem with passion and zeal.


A leader should strive to gain as much knowledge as possible about the the goal that is to be met. He should be able to advise and guide his team. He should not stop studying or reading up. The day the team feels they know more than him a leader ceases to be one as they will no longer follow him and they will start going their own ways.

Enjoy what you are doing

Enjoying what one is doing is very important. A leader should not think that what they are doing is a burden. They should enjoy what they are doing and only then will they be able to spread the same cheer to the team. Not enjoying what one is doing is a big dampener and will very easily bring the whole team down.


Unknown said...

Maybe this comes under the belief heading but a leader should allow people in his team to try out their own ideas as long as they seem viable.
Your article is interesting especially because my PhD advisor recently quit and went into industry. He had none of the properties you listed and was especially incompetent himself in many ways. His ideas were never thought out completely and rarely had much literature precedence and in his 3 years as assistant prof. he couldn't get a single large grant to support us. I don't mean to rant, it's just that I can clearly see him as an example of a really bad leader.

Sudeep Dsouza said...

Allowing members in the team to express and grow within the team is an important aspect of a leader. For the sustainability of anything it is important to groom members of the team to take up positions of leadership at varions points of time. It is difficult for only one person to be a leader all the time. So it is a fine balance of power that must take place but the leader should always be able to moderate the situation and should act in a fair non-biased manner when overriding others.

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