I have traveled around the world many times and met with some great leaders in a vast number of professions. What I have found through speeches, seminars and private, one-on-one meeting’s is that they all share the same unique characteristics and traits. While it is hard to pinpoint what exactly makes a leader great, it is easy to define the foundational principles that guide them through their life and career. I love to study people and what drives them on a daily basis. In this blog post, I will outline what I consider to be the basic underlying strengths of what makes an individual a true leader amongst others.

Over the next 5 weeks I will expand on these five traits of a powerful leader.

For part one, lets start here:

  • Throw Integrity and Intelligence out the window, they are simply tickets to the game.

  • Leadership – Born with it or Learned and Developed?

  • The 5 Traits of Great Leaders:

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    1. Positive Attitude

    2. Motivational Personality

    3. Ability to be Decisive

    4. Ability to Execute

    5. Passionate About Life

Positivity is one trait that I firmly believe people are born with. There are several other minor traits that accompany positivity, all of which become essential for solid leadership abilities. The first minor trait is gratitude. Gratitude is essential for happiness in that it provides a method for humans to assess their success in relation to things others have brought to the table. How can anyone truly be happy if they don’t take the time to realize the contributions others have made in order for that happiness to be obtained? Leaders do.

Another key ingredient of positivity is having the ability to live in the moment, be in the moment. This is an idiom for being able to realize, at any given time, the exact moment in time in which you exist and then acting upon it. In other words, if you are living in the moment, you will see that you need to close the deal now; that you need to provide the right advice now, etc. So many times in our lives, we think back about a situation and think, “Why didn’t I just say _______?, or why didn’t I just do __________?” If you are truly living in the moment or being in the moment, you will recognize the immediate response you need to have and will give it. This is something real leaders know how to without ever being taught.

Developing and applying your sense of humor is another key aspect of positivity. When you can defuse or enhance a situation with the proper sense of humor, you increase your ability to remain positive. Regardless of how positive you are, sometimes things are just not going to work out and it’s those times a good sense of humor can become critical to success.

One trait you’ll always see leaders exhibit is self-confidence. Followers are always looking to follow leaders who show through actions and body language that they are in control and know what they are doing. Self-confidence means possessing the ability to always focus on your skills and abilities and not on yours or other’s faults.

Leaders also have the ability to adapt. Life happens and we can’t always control what situation or circumstance we find facing us. Knowing how to think on your feet and adapt positively to any given situation is a critical talent for leadership.

And finally, true leaders all have a set of intangible values that have been provided by their 3 F’sFamily, Friends and Fun. We are all products of our environment and leaders are born with the ability to harvest and apply the best the lessons learned from the experiences their family and friends have provided them. Along with those experiences, is fun. We’ve all experienced fun from time to time and instead of just letting it touch us for a brief moment, leaders know how to imbed that fun into their daily way of thinking. They know more than most, that life is what you make it and people would rather follow a leader who knows how to have fun more than one who doesn’t.

Thanks for reading my first Trait to Leadership. Please watch for the next four installments that will not only teach you how to recognize a born leader, but will help you to sharpen your leadership skills to increase your opportunity and happiness.

Aaron Rennert, Vice President Worldwide Sales and Marketing, GM Sisel International

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 Go to Part 2.