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What Are the Key Strengths of a Leader? Part One

Wednesday 15th Aug 2018 - Charan Sarai

Manager and leader are sometimes treated like they are interchangeable terms, but Thornfields Training Delivery Manager Charan Sarai has highlighted the big differences between the two and written up her key tips on how to reach your full potential as a leader.

The first in a two-part article focuses on defintions and characteristics. 

A good leader will be followed, but a great leader will go further and teach others how to become leaders themselves. Leaders who have no followers cannot really be considered leaders at all.

One definition of leadership that I really like comes from author James Scouller, who describes leadership as a process - “a series of choices and actions around defining and achieving a goal.”

My understanding of Scouller’s thoughts is that ‘leadership’ and ‘the leader’ are not one and the same, something set out in his work The Three Levels of Leadership (2011). This helped me think clearly about the importance of staying power and inspiration… setting out that vision, purpose, and direction. All of this coupled with enthusiasm and working collaboratively fuelled my desire to know more about this topic.


The Key Strength is Integrity

Do you have the ability to be natural and confident, rather than trying to rigidly do things by the book? I believe one of the key responsibilities of a leader is being squarely in the here and now, in the flow and completely present.

An example of this philosophy is the idea of the Authentic Leader - one who knows and lives by their values. They succeed by winning trust, being real and not being concerned about living up to other people’s expectations.
Reflecting on these abilities helps you to be real and true to yourself, and part of your own ongoing development is maintaining this, effectively learning how to lead yourself first. Bill George listed four elements that are key to authentic leaders, which I hope will align with your beliefs and be a source of encouragement.

  • Be true to yourself in the way you work – don’t put up a facade
  • Be inspired by a larger purpose than personal motivation
  • Make decisions that are based on your values rather than what you think will make you more popular.
  • Do the right thing.

Next, let’s look at our top three Personal Characteristics of Leadership, which will help you in practice.

  • A positive attitude and outlook will help you deal with problems.
  • Self-confidence, mastered through proven skills and experience.
  • Emotional intelligence - understanding and managing personal and colleagues’ emotions. This in turn leads to stronger relationships with colleagues and managers.


Finally, here are some last ideas to think about:

  • Take time to reflect and stop to consider your goals on a regular basis.
  • Don’t get bogged down in the detail. Yes, deadlines need to be met but trivial, irrelevant details can be distracting.
  • Work in alignment with key values and greater purpose. Not doing this may leave you feeling cynical and frustrated.


If you are interested in developing your leadership skills, take a look at award-winning training providers ThornfieldsILM Level 3 and ILM Level 5 courses.

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