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9 Greatest Things All Great Leaders Share

9 Greatest Things All Great Leaders Share

Who is a great leader? What makes a great leader?  How can I be a great leader? True leadership is not the product of a single practice, but rather one of many.

A true leader is not defined by authoritative influence, for leadership and dictation are two very different things. Rather, a leader is a person who is willing to take action. A true leader creates his/her own destiny, irrespective of the social constraints that may pose a formidable barrier to success. They do not wait for things to come; they make them happen. And when opportunities refuse to knock . . . they build a door.

The world had seen many great leaders, none of whom were necessarily “born for greatness” but all of whom share common qualities. These are the qualities that are typical of effective leadership, and that any aspiring leader should work to develop so as to inspire others and achieve results:

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Great Leaders Are Persistent

Dedication is perhaps the most fundamental key to success. A great leader maintains persistence in the face of adversary, and always knows how to use self discipline in order to get ahead. No leader ever accepted defeat as a final outcome. Defeat is simply an education, and the first step to something better. Never underestimate the power of consistency.

Great Leaders Motivate Others

Motivation is a stimulant which can not be overlooked. All great leaders know how to inspire action, and sometimes a positive attitude is all it takes to get the ball rolling. In many ways, optimism is what lies at the roots of true leadership, and is critical to the maintenance of collective productivity.

Great Leaders Work Well With Others

Great leaders recognise the value of synchronicity, and moreover, the power inclusivity. They surround themselves with highly skilled people who complement their own skills and emulate their ambitions and personal values. By investing in mutually beneficial relationships, they expand their domain and create a stimulating workplace that allows for maximum productivity.

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Great Leaders Ask Questions

Great leaders are always prepared to acknowledge room for improvement. What can be done better? How do I improve? The capacity for acquired knowledge is infinite.

Great Leaders Make Decisions

No great leader ever sat on the fence. Great leaders commit to decisions and are always prepared take the appropriate risks at the right time.

Great Leaders Master The Art Of Communication

A great leader is articulate and succinct in the delivery of his/her message. They generate activity, not through the issuing of commands, but by offering guidance and support. They enunciate their performance expectations and are always clear about rules and expectations. By keeping the lines of communication open, great leaders ensure that all group members feel able to make contributions and receive recognition for their achievements

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Great Leaders Share What They Know

Knowledge is not a private prerogative. People respect a leader who doesn’t keep them in the dark. Collective awareness is the key to social justice and respect.

Great Leaders Share Their Power

Power is not a badge or a medal, and cannot be identified as a tangible entity. True power lies within the act of compassion, and the equal distribution of opportunities amongst others. Great leaders share their power and celebrate their influence by using it to help those in need, rather than those in want.

Great Leaders Share Their Time

Great leaders place an emphasis on magnanimity. They spend time listening to feedback and are always responsive to the group’s needs, and ready to offer support and assistance. Good leaders will always express sincere care and concern for all members of their group.

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Featured photo credit: Obama/pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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