By Jim Wong, CPA | August 3, 2016

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

You don’t have to search far on the Internet these days in order to find healthy discussions on leadership traits and how to maximize your skills to become an effective leader. There is a plethora of articles and thought leadership content out there—from how to be a better leader to the differences between managers and leaders to who should rule the free world—and more.

It seems like quality leadership is top of mind for many, and it’s such an important subject that it deserves the attention, especially for accounting, finance and IT professionals looking to advance their careers.

I recently came across an article on Forbes that discusses the attributes of every great leader. I found it to be a valuable article and wanted to share some of the highlights along with a few suggestions of my own.

1. Respects him/herself and others. 
In any work environment, there is likely to be some sort of conflict. That’s OK though—not every colleague needs to agree on every single topic. A little bit of disagreement can even be productive, and strong leaders know that. However, no matter what the conflict is, there must be a level of respect at all times. Great leaders must be sure to maintain respect for themselves and of course, for their colleagues. In creating a respectful environment, colleagues are likely to feel comfortable sharing opinions and ideas without the fear of disrespect.

2. Trusts and is trusted. 
Similar to respect, in order to be trusted, a leader should first be able to trust those around him to set an example. As I mentioned, it’s a given that there will be conflict from time to time, however, a strong leader knows they must trust others to be successful. Similarly, colleagues must trust their leader in return. This is a quality that is not developed overnight, rather it is harnessed and built upon little by little.

3. Takes responsibility. 
Being a strong leader requires risk every now and then. Every great leader can tell you that he or she has experienced failure at least once in their career. The difference between a good leader and a great leader is how one recovers from failure. It’s been said before, but one should learn something from their mistakes—and take responsibility for those missteps instead of placing the blame on others. A great leader isn’t afraid to take a risk and learn from it, whether or not it went according to plan.

4. Shows courage. 
In addition to respect, trust and responsibility, the Forbes article mentions the importance of courage: “For everyone, and for each of us, courage can mean working as if it’s the final year of your life. Hold nothing back. Use measurements, discipline and logic to obtain the results you desire, for both yourself and your team.” This is a powerful statement that applies to all professionals—and all industries. A strong leader must show courage and not be afraid to take a risk in order to lead and inspire others.

These are only a few of the qualities and characteristics that every great leader shares. Do you have other suggestions? Comment below and let us know!

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