What Makes a Leader: Pushing the Limits

Jaclyn Crawford Foresight, What Makes A Leader? Leave a Comment

Great leaders possess seven characteristics, whether innate or developed, according to the Consumer Electronics Assocation’s leading man

Every great, disruptive innovation has been the result of strong and surefooted leaders pushing the limits and inspiring others to move forward. These are women and men who aren’t afraid to lead the way in developing new ideas and questioning the status quo.

It’s tempting to look for a specific recipe for leadership success, but my decades in the consumer electronics industry have taught me otherwise. I work with and observe some of the most creative, innovative leaders of our time, and it’s clear that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes.

Some people are born leaders; others have to work at it. Just as every person is unique, every leader brings his or her individual qualities to the table. What works for one person may not work for another. Still, there are a handful of core characteristics that great leaders have in common. All of us can and should work to cultivate these attributes in ourselves:

1. Leaders are listeners. Being a good leader means being open to new ideas. Leaders know good ideas can come from anybody, not just executives. Leaders are especially attentive to ideas that may come from their customers and the people in their company who specialize in customer service.

2. Leaders ask questions. They aren’t content with “yes” or “no” answers; they probe further, asking open-ended questions. They listen to those eager to share opinions, and they draw out the best in those who are quiet.

3. Leaders know themselves. They possess emotional intelligence. They know their weaknesses and monitor their emotions. They regularly review how they have handled tough situations, and are honest about what they could have done better.

4. Leaders constantly test their own assumptions. Bad assumptions lead to bad decisions.

5. Leaders take risks. They know that failure isn’t the end, but an opportunity for growth. They take calculated risks knowing they might fail, but that if they do, they will come through failure better prepared to move forward.

6. Leaders communicate. No one can operate as an island if they want to be successful. Real leaders remain open and honest with those around them, sharing their visions, goals and plans in order to make things happen.

7. Leaders are honest. Above all else, leaders have to maintain integrity, both with those working under them and those outside their organizations. Honesty breeds trust, and trust is essential for working together and achieving great things.

There is no step-by-step instruction sheet for success in leadership or business. But with self-awareness, hard work and commitment, anyone can adopt the common traits that define great leaders. Those who aim for success must adopt these common traits if they’re to achieve their goals and make a lasting impact.


Gary_Shapiro_CEAGary Shapiro is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Electronics Association, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of The New York Times best-selling books “Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses” and “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.” His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.



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