What characteristics make a good leader, the Generalissimo, the respected general? This is a discussion that's come about in many boardrooms, locker rooms, war rooms, and get togethers for ages. There are those who know what it means to be leader, who have leadership qualities and there are those who know how to be led.
And while they may lack leadership qualities, they are undoubtedly good foot soldiers. As a former athlete and as a professional, I've had the privilage to experience all of the above. I've had teammates who were great leaders that I learned from and picked up great traits from and as a professional I've had excellent leaders who gave you the confidence and tools to do your job which helped me to become a good leader. I've also had bosses, bosses are quite different from leaders. Bosses are those who delegate and dictate.
A boss does nothing for the moral of those that serve under them and the only thing their subordinates learn from them is what not to do when they finally get the chance to lead or they learn how to be terrible leaders in their own right. What I want to focus on is what I believe makes the great leaders, the ones that can lead droves of folks to get the job done not matter what it is and no matter what the disadvantages they may face. Whether it in a professional life or in sports, one thing I do know is that attitude reflects leadership. What that means is those who follow will show you what type of leader they have by the behavior they display.
If they are hard workers, work together as a unit, believe in themselves, in one another, and believe they can achieve any goal, then chances are they follow an amazing leader. If they have low moral, are malcontents, don't or won't buy into the plan, fight each other and can't achieve certain tasks nor believe they can, that is a group that I can promise you has a poor leader or worse, a boss.
Leaders make their subordinates feel like anything is possible, like they can concur the world. Leaders have followers that come together and attack a problem at it's core. Leaders can get their people to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the team as honey bees or ants do for the hive. They are able to do this because a leader will show the others that sacrifice is okay and necessary and will be the first ones to show sacrifice themselves.
Others are willing to work hard and get their hands dirty if they see their leader is the first to do so. Why would you follow an order or direction if the person giving the order has never followed it themselves or reluctant to sacrifice anything of their own? (I hope Congress and the U.S. Government paid attention to that last line) Good leaders are able to make the weak feel strong, the terse feel compassion, the timid become outspoken, and the coward feel courageous.
The boss will suppress courage, crush great moods, diminish confidence and work ethic and put a damper on production. The leader will always leave behind a legacy which is the most telling sign of all. All great leaders leave behind a legacy or family tree of other great leaders and lessons.
The great leader will leave behind lessons that will be taught to newcomers for ages to come. Their rules and way of life will become principles to live by, guidelines for a lifestyle, and a blueprint for success. Great leaders become legends, they become immortal. Great leaders become the standard to which many will be compared to in their respective fields. A boss, will do none of these things.
A boss can never be successful, leaves only a legacy of disgust and failure. A boss leaves behind a family tree of malcontents and foot soldiers who either make bad decisions or leave the field in its entirety. Leaders aren't even always the best at their job, but they are the best at showing the big picture, and helping everyone else see it as well. A great leader may not even be the smartest, or the most talented but they will be humble enough to surround themselves with those who are smarter and more talented and empower them to share their abilities to achieve the ultimate goal.
Leadership isn't for everyone, in fact if you hand the reigns of leadership over to the wrong person it could be disastrous. So before asking to take control over anyting or "run the show" as they say, ask yourself if you have all the qualities of a great leader. Can you get the job done? Can you get a rag tag group of underachievers to feel like kings and queens and win the battle? Anyone can get the job done with the best talent but can you do it with little talent?
Can you be humble enough to know when to turn to those you lead to take over and use their expertise or do you only feel comfortable always calling the shots yourself? If you can't do any of these things then you aren't leadership material, and if given the chance you would probably just be a boss. When it's all said and done it comes down to what you want your legacy to be. Attitude reflects leadership. So what is your attitude and the attitude of those you are surrounded with?