When I consult with the next generation of business owners and key executives, I am frequently asked what makes an effective leader. This is an important question. As John Maxwell notes in The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” He asks, “What makes people want to follow a leader?” And, “Why do people reluctantly comply with one leader while passionately following another to the ends of the earth?”

Key leadership principles

Here are four stated leadership principles from writers I admire that address these questions:

  1.  Accountability – In The Oz Principle, the authors explain how we lead by resolving problems using these four steps to accountability: see it, own it, solve it, and do it.
  2. Influence – In The Go-Giver, Burg and Mann show us that influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest above your own.
  3.  Trustworthiness – In The 8th Habit we learn from Steven Covey that 90% of all leadership failures are failures of character. He purports that an effective leader needs to be trustworthy and that trust is developed from strong character and competency.
  4. Multipliers – In Multipliers the authors explain, “Multipliers are genius makers who bring out the intelligence in others. They build collective, viral intelligence in organizations. Diminishers are absorbed in their own intelligence, stifle others, and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability.”  A leader needs to be a multiplier.

Today’s successful leader

Experience shows us that these four character qualities are foundational to the makings of a successful leader. To be an effective influencer in your organization, show accountability, put others first, be trustworthy, and use your ability to bring out the intelligence in those you lead.

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