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Passionate Leadership: 12 Key Traits That Distinguish The Best From The Rest

Do you remember your first encounter with a leader who profoundly impacted the course of your career or business? Why do you think he or she left such a favourable impression? If you are in the position of leading others today, do the memories of your interactions with this individual linger fondly, still influencing your own leadership style?

Hopefully, you answered “yes” to these questions although it would not be surprising if:

a) You have yet to encounter a passionate leader and therefore have no frame or reference

b) You are sadly lacking a role model, or

c) Your recollections of leaders from your past make you wince, rather than smile. 

If you do not have a leader in your midst who inspires you to be your best or if your experience with managers has left you disillusioned, any of the scenarios described above are sadly not surprising. This is due to the fact that management talent is rare. According to Gallup Research, only one in every ten people possesses the combination of core skills required to effectively lead others.

So, what makes outstanding leaders stand out? In my experience, there is a significant difference between leaders who lead with their title and leaders who lead with passion. In a nutshell, passionate leaders lead with heart and soul. They are fully engaged and committed to achieving their goals while helping others to achieve theirs.  When you are in the presence of a passionate leader, your sensory system is stimulated and your emotions are stirred as you pick up their positive, contagious energy. Given the fact that there is a direct correlation between engaged managers and engaged employees, it should come as no surprise that your peers and team members crave passionate leadership.

You do not need to wait for a passionate leader to enter your sphere of influence.  If you already recognize that leadership starts with you, you can begin to study and apply the following traits to raise your own level of passion, regardless of whether you have the title of “leader”.

  1. Passionate leaders rise above the naysayers. They seek solutions rather than problems, critique instead of criticize, and look for the good in every situation.
  2. Passionate leaders have a profound understanding of people.  They are open-minded, appreciate differences, and respect divergent opinions.
  3. Passionate leaders are outstanding communicators. They listen with the intent to genuinely understand, rather than to advance their own agenda.
  4. Passionate leaders have clarity of their vision. They are future-focused and have the capacity to engage others to realize their goals.
  5. Passionate leaders see opportunity in adversity. They recognize that failure is part of success, and they embrace challenges.
  6. Passionate leaders are fuelled by positive energy. They surround themselves with like-minded people and are enriched by collaborative relationships.
  7. Passionate leaders have compassion. They give for the sake of giving, expecting nothing in return.
  8. Passionate leaders are resourceful. They recognize potential and intuitively utilize others’ strengths, rather than try to be all things to all people.
  9. Passionate leaders anticipate, rather than react to change. They do not subscribe to the “herd” mentality and are free thinkers.
  10. Passionate leaders take action. They are risk-takers, execute ideas, and they do not dawdle or dwell in the past.
  11. Passionate leaders are life-long learners. They remain teachable, aware, and tuned into key trends.
  12. Passionate leaders believe in themselves. They trust their gut instinct, they do not take criticism personally and they remain undaunted by obstacles that invariably come their way at work, in business, or in life.

There is no question that a leader’s ability to motivate, inspire and create a magnetic vision requires dedication, perseverance and skill. However, the underlying prerequisite is to hone an unshakeable trust in oneself, fuelled by willingness and passion to succeed. Let it start with you.

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