Qualities of Successful Leaders

Happy Sunday everyone!!

I thought today I would talk about some things I’ve been learning in one of my courses this semester.  I am currently taking an English elective called “Culture of Leadership”, where we analyze what it means to be a leader, the qualities that good leaders possess, and the different leadership styles we all possess as individuals.  Recently for an assignment, I got to interview Dr. Lynn Tomkins, the former President of the Ontario Dental Association.  She gave me some incredible insight into leadership and I thought I would share what I have learned so far from both her and this course in general.  I’ve picked out some key qualities that I think are important for all successful leaders, so here we go!

1) Vision: Dr. Tomkins identified vision to be one of the essential characteristics every leader should possess.  A leader has to have a vision of where they want to be, and where they see their organization in the future.  Not only that, but their vision has to be clearly defined, so that they can transmit it to others effectively.

2) Ability to inspire others:  Having a vision is not enough to become a good leader.  I envision a world without violence, but that’s not enough to make it happen.  A leader has to be able to inspire others with confidence and belief in their vision.  One must be able to engage other people in this vision to make them passionate and determined to help you achieve that goal.  This requires great communication skills, and lots of charisma.  Some people are naturally wonderful at this.  Have you ever listened to someone make a speech (maybe a politician), maybe not have fully understood it, but at the end still feel an overwhelming desire to support them in their goals?  That’s charisma, and successful leaders have lots of it.

3) Determination and responsibility: I grouped these together because I think they’re highly intertwined.  A great leader must have the determination to achieve their goal, thus he/she must take responsibility for the work that comes with it.  One of the things that Dr. Tomkins stressed to me was that you have to be willing to do the work.  Whether it be researching, writing, fostering partnerships with others, the leader has to accept responsibility for both the successes and failures of the entire organization.  Perhaps on the bright side, I feel that when you have a goal/vision that means so much to you, doing whatever it takes to make it happen may come naturally.

4) Listening more than you speak: As much as it is important to convey your vision to others, it’s just as important to listen to and value the opinions of your team members.  Team members are more likely to feel valued, more responsible, and more motivated to succeed in a project if they have been able to contribute their ideas into it.

Finally, I’d like to end with something interesting that I have learned from all of this.  We all have different styles of leadership based on our personality traits, which puts into question whether everyone has the potential to be a successful leader.  In Dr. Tomkins’ opinion, everyone can be a leader, but not everyone can be a leader of a large organization.  Perhaps everyone has different capacities to be a leader, and limitations to the scale at which their leadership style would be effective.  Just something kind of interesting to think about!

~Kaitlyn

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