5 Attributes of Effective Leaders

Lessons to Apply to Your Own Leadership Style for Maximum Results

I have just returned from a leadership retreat, held in the South of England. My role was to facilitate a conversation over two days that explored the essence of what leadership is and how we can all be better leaders. The venue for the retreat was Leeds Castle, set in the heart of the Kent countryside. This beautiful, Saxon-built castle features an eclectic mix of period architecture from across the centuries. It was once home to King Edward I, founder of the British Parliament, and also King Henry V, who is frequently researched by scholars of leadership. The assembled group, about 20 of us in total, was also rather eclectic, featuring CEOs, Chairmen, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Senior Partners, General Council, and knighted captains of industry. The conversation flowed well. Chatham House Rule ensured both confidentiality and honesty. We shared our personal stories. We reflected on triumphs and defeats. We identified lessons learned. We talked about what inspires us, and why we feel called to lead. As the retreat drew to a close, we acknowledged to each other that we had participated in a conversation full of rich insights and practical help for leading in these especially challenging times. Here is a brief excerpt from my personal notes, which I will call, Five Lessons for Leadership NOW.

Lesson #1: Leadership is not a position; it’s an attitude

Everyone is a potential leader. A leader is anyone who is willing to “take a lead” in any situation. A leader recognizes that they create the world they live in. The world is an effect; not a cause. We are the ones who cause the effect. And the world changes, when we do. Therefore, one person really can make a difference. An effective leader usually has a good idea of the difference they want to make.

Lesson #2: Leadership looks after the Spiritual DNA.

A leader is someone who is willing to dig deep inside to know who they really are, and what their life is for. They are in search of the “true self”; they are inner-directed; they look after the identity of the organization; they look after the Spiritual DNA; they grow the signature strengths; and they help individuals and organizations achieve authentic success.

Lesson #3: A leader has a vision, and teaches people to see.

A leader has a vision, not just for the next three months, but over the long-term too. They see what is necessary now, and they can also see something of the future. Leaders are the custodians of the vision, and they keep the vision alive in their own mind and in the minds of others. Leadership is about seeing the possibility for something that might not exist yet. A leader is someone who sees possibility in any situation Ð a possibility for more love, more truth, more honesty, for instance—and thereby helps to bring it into existence.

Lesson #4: It is the JOY of leadership that sustains you.

Leadership is not always easy. You are often the first to fall, the first to be criticized, the first to be accused, the first to be attacked. AND, you have to be willing to be the first to get back on your feet, the first to learn, the first to forgive, and the first to move on. It can be easy to forget “the joy” of what you do; but when you remember “the joy” it can sustain you in all manner of ways.

Lesson #5: Leaders grow, and they keep on growing.

A leader is someone who understands that “we” cannot grow if “I” will not grow. A marriage cannot grow, if I will not grow. A friendship cannot grow, if I will not grow. A team cannot grow, if I will not grow. An organization cannot grow, if I will not grow. Peter Drucker said, “Leaders grow; they are not made.” A leader wants to grow, and that is what makes others want to grow too. Everyday, think about what inspires you, what is real, and what you aspire to—right now.