But what makes someone a leader? What are the most common traits of a leader? How do their beliefs, qualities, and personalities lead them to change the world?
How someone becomes a leader is who they’ve become and what they’re driven to do. Leaders aren’t born leaders, they’re made leaders. Leaders are made because of how they react to circumstances, how they were brought up, and their passions.
If someone avoids dangerous or risky situations, like standing behind their religious beliefs, and aren’t willing to take on ridicule for holding to that position, then he or she isn’t a leader. Leaders take on risky situations that will get them to their goal or to stand up for their beliefs. They’ll face opposition for it because they’re doing what they think is right.
However a leader can’t stand up for something unless he has certain traits. He or she has to have vision, passion, perseverance/determination, and character.
In order for a leader to lead in anything, he or she has to have a vision of what they want to accomplish. Vision is important to know what they want to achieve, whether it’s ending a war or gaining rights for a group.
For Winston Churchill, it was ending WWII and Britain’s sagging disposition that was popular at the beginning his prime ministership. Churchill put an end to the defeatist attitude by showing optimism and inspiring people that Britain will pull through.
In one of his speeches that is credited with giving Britain optimism, he stated: “It is in adversity that British qualities shine the brightest, and it is under these extraordinary tests that the character of our slowly wrought institutions reveals its latent, invisible strength.”
With vision comes passion. Passion to achieve the goal–the vision. Having that passion makes it easier to persevere through tough times. It also shows whether or not a leader is actually committed to their goal. If they don’t have that passion, their vision won’t come true because they won’t be willing to see it through.
It wasn’t the case for Martin Luther King Jr., who had the passion and vision to see desegregation happen. He had “a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” It was the same dream that saw that everybody “will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but on the content of their character.” King had a vision and, almost as important, the passion to see segregation end and a new era begin.
King not only had passion for desegregation, but he also had the perseverance and determination to see it through.
Leaders, especially good ones, need perseverance and determination because when the going gets tough, those who are determined enough persevere and keep achieve their goals. When the vision and passion are strong, then leaders are willing to stand up to opposition in order to pursue the goal to see it finished. They know it won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.
William Wilberforce was also a very determined person, but his goal was to end slavery. He had the passion and knew that the goal ending slavery was worthwhile. However, Wilberforce had to persevere through losing battles to a pro-slavery parliament and not enough support to pass his bill. He was determined and stood up against the opposition, which eventually crumbled while most switched over to support him. Wilberforce determination and passion helped him win support and pass laws to end slavery.
Not only did Churchill, King, and Wilberforce have a goal, passion, and determination, they also had character.
Character is an important factor in what people can accomplish. It’s the attributes that distinguishes one person from everyone else. Each person has a set of characteristics that gives them the ability to do things. Everyone can succeed or fail at anything based if they’re within character.
For Churchill, he used his imperturbable personality and his strategic insight to help Britain win WWII. For King, he used his ability to rally for a common cause and his sense of equality and justice to end racial segregation in the USA. For Wilberforce, he used his strong sense of justice and morality to end slavery in Britain.
What they did with their characteristics distinguished them from everyone else. They also used their characteristics to achieve their vision. They were able to achieving success by using their characteristics, while having the determination, passion and vision to see it through.
That is what leadership requires: people who use their characteristics to complete their passions and visions with determinations and perseverance. Leaders make the change that might not have happened if they didn’t start it.
That person could be you. Use your characteristics and passions to achieve your goals and see them through. Be determined and persevere through tough times. You don’t have to be big in any way to lead. You just need the guts to start accomplishing your goals.
As Harry Truman once said:
Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.
Be the leader. Be the change. Raise your expectations.