Leadership can be defined as one's ability to get others to willingly follow. Of course, leaders can be nurtured, but effective leadership also requires certain traits.
In honor of President's Day, I offer examples of some of the most effective U.S. presidents and the leadership traits that helped cultivate their successes.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was almost always described by the people who knew him well as being trustworthy. British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who admired his personal attributes, said, "[Eisenhower's] real strength lies in his human qualities. He has the power of drawing the hearts of men toward him as a magnet attracts the bit of metal. He merely has to smile at you, and you trust him at once."
One of the hallmarks of a great president, and business leaders, is trust. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity. Employees want their leaders to be more trustworthy and transparent. They want to be informed of any changes that affect the company and their positions up front and not after the fact. Therefore, effective business leaders establish a strong foundation of trust among their employees..
The most successful presidents in history have exercised a clear vision. Franklin Roosevelt wanted to bring about changes to protect the average citizen from the brutal effects of the Great Depression.
Leaders must have a vision to guide them as they implement their agendas. Vision in business requires that you clearly see where you choose to be in the future and formulate the necessary steps to get your organization there. Visionaries are creative people that take the initiative with the appropriate action, and then exercise discipline and creativity to sustain their vision.
The ability to persuade the public to their point of view is one of the most powerful weapons presidents possess. It's also one that he most needs to succeed.
Theodore Roosevelt used his position and influence as president to persuade
citizens to his point of view. He was able to get much of his legislation passed,
despite having to deal with a hostile Congress. And Ronald Reagan was known as the "Great Communicator" because of his ability to connect with the U.S. public and to share his vision of America.
Persuasion means changing someone's mind. So a leader's job is to change minds, to push followers to make new decisions. A powerful persuader communicates well and instills trust. The communicating a leader does is essentially persuasion. That's what leaders do. They persuade people to work together, to achieve more than they ever thought they could, and to reach for apparently impossible goals.