The 5 Characteristics of a Powerful Leader

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22 May 2019
Sonja Pototzki-Raymond

As we have witnessed, the business landscape is continuously transforming, and in turn, the world needs better leaders to maintain a sense of stability. The responsibility to step up and demonstrate how to lead the herd is on all of us. While going through uncertain times, people often try to cling to what is NOT moving. The more you can centre yourself and remain in your power; the more your staff and clients will look to you as a guide through the uncertainty.

The greatest leaders of all time possess similar characteristics which shape how they guide their team as well as inspiring the rest of the world to take notice and value their contributions. According to Forbes

  1. Leadership has nothing to do with seniority or one’s position in the hierarchy of a company.
  2. Leadership has nothing to do with titles.
  3. Leadership has nothing to do with personal attributes.
  4. Leadership is not management.

Leadership is all about the power of influence; nothing more nothing less! Being an influential leader is a magnetic field of energy; everyone is compelled to follow you.

Warren Buffett, the fourth wealthiest person in the world, is considered one of the most successful investors of our time and leads his team at Berkshire Hathaway with specific characteristics which make him a compelling and inspiring leader.

When it comes to leadership we can’t help but think of one of our favourite Warren Buffett quotes “look for three things in a person, intelligence, energy & integrity, if they don’t have at least one, don’t even bother with the first two”.

Below are five characteristics and skills Warren Buffett embodies, which can help you become a successful leader.

1. Clear communication

Like any relationship, whether it is business or personal, the only way it will thrive and stand the test of time is through open, honest, and transparent communication. Great leaders listen to the ideas of those around them and should take pride in how they communicate any qualms back to their team. Constructive criticisms or disagreements will all be made more accessible if the channels of communication are kept honest but respectful.

Many journalists and colleagues of Warren Buffett have noted his incredible collaboration skills and love to teach others. When he explains how something works, he keeps the jargon to an absolute minimum and does not revel in the fact he knows more than someone else. He purely enjoys sharing his knowledge with new people and does so with his impeccable communication skills.

2. Authentic teamwork

This may be an obvious one but delve deeper into what it means to practice effective teamwork at its highest capacity. Buffett has explained how ineffective it is to micromanage. Instead, it would be best if you give your team the freedom to experiment. Although it will be frustrating when they make a mistake, you know you could have avoided, your team must learn to solve problems, to think for themselves and feel the sense of accomplishment.

As Buffett said, “hire well, manage little.” 

Give your employees the power to make decisions so they can learn to trust their judgement. You can set expectations, provide them with resources and give encouragement as they grow with as little handholding as possible. Try to remain motivated by the successes of the team rather than individual gains.

3. Optimistic and remaining calm under pressure

Read or watch an interview with Warren Buffett, and you will see how much he loves his work. He somehow always manages to stay optimistic, which motivates his workers and gives them little reason to doubt him as a leader. If there are issues, he addresses them, which can be seen in his honest Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder letters. He never fails to stay positive towards the future of his company even while weathering a market downturn.

Your team will look to you for guidance and how you react in stressful situations. Being able to remain calm while under pressure or following losses takes self-control. Adopting ways of thinking that are more optimistic and level-headed will only improve your leadership skills and trickle down to the rest of your team.

4. Practice Integrity

The number one thing Buffett looks for in his potential employees is integrity. Even if you have all the skills, knowledge, and credibility but with no integrity, it means nothing to him.

Set a good example and practise what you preach by really living your values and staying true to your vision. Be reliable, when your team trusts you, they are more likely to work harder for you. Inspire them to have faith in you, believe in the work they are doing and motivate them to perform even better. This quote by Bill Gates is appropriate “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Address your fears and most importantly try to conquer them. Warren was terrified of public speaking, so he enrolled in a course to work through public speaking skills to improve as he knew what a valuable tool to have as a leader. Be inspired by learning and the desire to understand more and improve your leadership skills. As Warren Buffett once said, “the most important investment you can make is in yourself.”

5. Lead with Kindness

It isn’t a big secret that the more you learn, the better you can be. As Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”.

It is of utmost importance to always try lead from a place of kindness. When it comes to listening to feedback from your employees or hearing mistakes, try to listen without judgement, and genuinely understand those around you. Celebrate the successes of each other, recognise their hard work and offer support.

Buffett leads with kindness and encourages us all to be more empathetic. The notable philanthropist founded The Giving Pledge with Bill Gates which encourages billionaires to give away at least half of their fortunes. The self-made mogul has pledged to give away 99% of his fortune to just causes.

As an employee, the more valued you feel and authentically cared about by your employer, the more likely you are to follow in their lead. Your team will be more confident in themselves and trust you when they see leadership with kindness and empathy.

“You want to associate with people who are the kind of person you’d like to be. You’ll move in that direction.” – Warren Buffett

At The Marketing Republic, our passion is to see others succeed, but this all comes back to how to show up as a leader not only in our working lives but our personal lives. If you would like some help on improving your leadership style, please reach out to us here we would love to help.

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