Many businesses are run by role players and boring beaurocrats rather than leaders. What does it take to be a true leader — someone who is secure in who they are and what they stand for, and who truly inspires others to achieve outstanding results. Why Should Anyone Follow You? What characteristics distinguish a great leader? Why do we dislike being led by some people but welcome being led by others? However, we’ve observed that inspirational leaders have four unexpected characteristics:
- They demonstrate their approachability and humanity by displaying some weaknesses.
- Their capacity to acquire and evaluate soft data assists them in determining when and how to respond.
- Inspiring leaders sympathize passionately — and realistically — with people, and they are deeply invested in their colleagues’ work.
- They capitalize on what makes them stand out.
- You may find yourself in a leadership position without these skills, but few people will want to follow you.
It should be noted that our concept of the four essential leadership attributes is not about results in and of themselves. While many of the leaders we’ve studied and used as models do, our research has focused on leaders who excel at inspiring others — at capturing hearts, minds, and souls — to achieve superior financial returns. This is not a necessary skill in business, but any experienced leader will tell you that it is precious. Without it, incredible results may be impossible to achieve.
Your Weaknesses Should Be Revealed
When leaders reveal their flaws, they reveal who they are, flaws and all. Exposing a fault builds trust and thus helps get people on board. Indeed, if executives try to communicate that they are perfect at everything, no one will help them with anything. They won’t require any followers. They’ll show that they’re capable of doing everything themselves.
Another benefit of exposing weakness is that it provides a leader with valuable protection. Given the nature of human nature, if you don’t show some weakness, observers may invent one for you. Celebrities and politicians have long been aware of this. They frequently give the public something to talk about on purpose, because they know the newspapers will come up with something worse if they don’t.
It’s always a good idea not to reveal a weakness that would be perceived as a fatal flaw — that is, a flaw that jeopardizes vital aspects of your professional role. Another popular strategy is to choose a weakness that can also be considered a strength, such as being a workaholic. When leaders expose these minor flaws, people will not notice much and will suffer little harm.
Learn how to be a sensor
When it comes to knowing when to reveal a flaw or a difference, inspirational leaders rely heavily on their instincts. We refer to them as suitable situation sensors because they can collect and interpret soft data. They can pick up on signals in the environment and sense what’s going on without being told what’s going on. Another risk associated with sensing abilities is that they can be misused. Sensing a situation, by definition, entails projection — the mental state in which you attribute your ideas to other people and things. When someone “projects,” their thoughts may get in the way of the truth. A leader’s oversensitivity can be a recipe for disaster. As a result, reality testing must always be used to frame sensing capability. Sensors of all abilities may be required to seek confirmation from a trusted advisor or a member of his inner circle.
Practicing Tough Empathy
Tough empathy, at its best, blends regard for the individual and respect for the work at hand. On the other hand, attending to both is difficult, especially when the business is in survival mode. Caring leaders must offer selflessly to those around them while also knowing when to step aside.
Tough empathy has the added benefit of motivating leaders to take risks. People who are passionate about something are more likely to use it. People are more inclined to display their actual selves when they are deeply invested in something — anything. They will not only express authenticity, which is a must for leadership, but they will also demonstrate that they are doing more than just acting. People do not commit to executives who only fulfil their job responsibilities. They desire more. They want someone who is as enthusiastic about the people and the work as they are.