On Leadership

I enjoy posting my thoughts to another's question on LinkedIn. This post is my response to a question on what constitutes leadership. Given that each one of us must demonstrate leadership traits, to greater or lesser degrees according to our positions, it is indeed a topic that touches each of us. Here it is:

An effective, respected leader's character must balance intelligence with common sense, learned facts with "street smarts," must be confident of decisions, choices, must embrace others' input, leverage others' strengths. He or she must behave with utmost integrity as he or she will be evaluated perhaps more stringently than others.

I agree that although leadership qualities/traits/attributes can be learned, the ability to actually lead others (achieve their support, earn their trust, gain their "following," reap rewards and benefits as a result) is not something that I can imagine someone learning. One is either born or nurtured early on to lead others, or not.

Oftentimes leaders have that elusive element of charisma, that "je ne sais quoi" quality that, in smaller to larger quantities, electrifies, rivets, captures people's desire to allow that person to lead a company, corporation, state/province or country.

But as for the question of a hierarchy of demand, I am not sure if one could generalize. Each position will hold different challenges at different times; hence, a full spectrum of abilities (and these are curiously mostly "soft skills" that speak to character, personality, intelligence) will serve the would-be leader best.