If you were to build a house, you would begin with a blueprint. This blueprint proves useful as it not only contains the directions on how to build the house, it also describes the finished construction.

So, you might wonder what this has to do with leadership?

Last month I asked an audience of leaders to tell me what they thought the characteristics of an ideal leader were. Here are some of their answers:

A good listener, enthusiasm, passion, shows appreciation, a visionary, role model, trusting, integrity, organized, knowledgeable, credibility, persuasive, charisma, team building, clarity of purpose, problem solver, attitude of service, leads by example, patience, willing to act without complete knowledge, understands followers, consistent, empowers other people, and adapts to change.

These are in essence the same answers I receive from other audiences I ask this question to. From these answers, I would like to share some useful insights.

Notice what the list contains:

All of these characteristics relate to the human side of leadership. That’s interesting because I often hear people minimize this side of leadership with terms like “soft” or “touchy-feely.” In reality, applying these characteristics requires a definitive sense of strength.

Notice what the list excludes:

Absent from this list are characteristics such as stern, mean, serious, short tempered, vindictive, tough, angry, harsh, punitive, controlling, violent, or ruthless. And that’s interesting too as many popular representations of leadership emphasize at least one of these “hard” characteristics. In fact, these characteristics are the refuge of those who lack the strength (or the skills) to apply the human side of leadership.

How about you?

How would you rate yourself as a leader compared to the list of positive characteristics? If you were to survey the people who report to you, how would they describe your leadership? Would they list characteristics from the “soft” list or from the “hard” list? Could you become more effective by improving upon any of the “soft” characteristics? And how about the other leaders in your organization? Do they truly maximize human potential?

7 Actions You Can Take To Improve Your Leadership:

1. Pick out 2 or 3 leaders you admire, whether for their speaking abilities, their expertise or their ability to inspire. Subscribe to their newsletters, engage with them on social media and follow their speaking engagements. What can you learn from them that
will be contribution to you?

2. Ask generative questions. Questions that don’t require an answer, but allows you toexplore possibilities, like:

• If I knew how to be the leader my team requires, what would I know?
• What would it take for me to be the leader I know is possible?

3. What leadership tasks and responsibilities are you afraid of? Start practicing what makes you uncomfortable with a mentor or a friend.

4. Commit to learning something new about your expertise or industry every day. Feedly is a great online program that enables you to source and read relevant articles from various authors.

5. Create a resources page outlining new resources and tools that you find valuable and share it.

6. Make a list of the top 5 business books you want to read, and set a date that you want to have them finished by. Then, hold yourself accountable to that date.

7. Actively build and grow your relationships by identifying 10 people you could connect with and establish a mutually beneficial leader relationship with.

People want leaders who treat them with genuine compassion, courtesy, and respect.  They want leaders who empower them become more successful. They want leaders who inspire them with a vision for a better world and show them how to go there by leading the way.

[et_bloom_inline optin_id=optin_6]