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3 important qualities of a budding leader

July 24, 2011 - Professional Development

summer vacationAs the end of the summer draws near (I KNOW, can you believe it?), “What I Did This Summer” presentations from our interns are creating excitement in the office.  As we’ve watched the interns learn and grow, influence and be influenced these past eight weeks, conclusions have begun to be drawn.  Who’s got it and who doesn’t?

We usually talk in terms of what the intern did or didn’t do, in addition to the feedback we’ve received from other groups interacting with him/her.   But when I returned home one day after work and mentioned the end-of-summer intern performance analysis to my husband, he asked me a very interesting, straightforward question:

“So… what characteristics should a budding leader display?”

I had to think about that one for a minute.  As my colleagues and I speak of the behaviors of these potential hires, what are the common themes in the behaviors we’re looking for?  It all boils down to three important qualities:

1.  Be genuine

Do as I say, not as I doWhile it’s important to understand how to navigate corporate politics, it’s even more important to not let a corporate facade take over your personality.  People truly do see right through that to what a person does, rather than just what a person says.  In a recent blog post from Dan Rockwell (@LeadershipFreak), he outlines some techniques a person can employ to earn loyalty from their employees, such as Admit when you’re wrong and Share the spotlight.  Those two behaviors are the kinds of things a sincere, genuine person does, and people will remember and follow a budding leader who displays those qualities.

2.  Love learning

I don’t know it all.  You don’t know it all.  None of us knows it all, so don’t act like you do.  Foster within yourself a never-ending love of learning.  Always have an open mind and surround yourself with people smarter than you.  Learn the technology, learn the business, learn the office politics… and when you think you’ve learned it all, go learn some more.  And, just as important, don’t forget to share your learnings with others.

confidence3.  Don’t be intimidated

When speaking with or presenting to the CIO or her staff, don’t let yourself be intimidated by their job titles.  Prepare, practice, and be confident in what you know and what you have to offer.  If you speak confidently, you will inspire others’ confidence in you.

Are there any other characteristics a budding leader should display?

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