Defining What True Leadership Means Today

When we think of successful folks, by and large we typically view their socioeconomic status as a major contributor into how we measure success—but we don’t take into account their community involvement, how they treat others, and how much importance they place on family values. These are all important variables that indicate a true leader, that often get overlooked because we’re too focused on incomes and fancy titles. So when we view it purely from that lens, success gets slightly misconstrued.

When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others. – Jack Welch

This is sometimes the case when we define what true leadership is. Business leaders often get carried away by the power of what their designations command. Leadership is something everyone can learn, practice and adopt into their everyday lives. Leadership reverberates through locker rooms, to peer groups to Fortune 500 companies. It takes a great level of finesse to master the art of people, especially when designing the fabrics of a team structure for the long haul. They’re fully invested in this perennial chess match.

A boss has the title. A leader has the people. – Simon Sinek

A true leader is not the one with the most followers, but the one who creates the most leaders. Here are the common habits and traits that powerful leaders possess – in and out of the boardroom.

1.They explode with optimism

There’s a common misconception that ‘being realistic’ is actually a mindset. There are only two ways of thinking: you are either an optimist or a pessimist. True leaders do not employ the latter.

2.They possess high levels of confidence

Phenomenal leaders know who they are – and who they are not. Great leaders are cognizant of their cognitive wiring and how they operate. This means taking a critical look at their day-to-day mental fluctuations, learning from what isn’t working and how to constantly adapt and evolve. It takes constant self-evaluation while being open and receptive to feedback in order for this healthy evolution to process. It’s the very contagious confidence that rubs off on those around them like a powerful aura.

3.They hold themselves and others accountable

Great leaders hold a position of influence, and have good intentions – but the great ones are cognizant of their errors and can correct and modify their approach. In order to lead from a position of strength and respectability, they know when to praise their team and when to identify any issues that quickly need to be rectified.

4.They inspire others to achieve

Life isn’t just about what you accomplish – it’s what you inspire others to accomplish. Great leaders know how to light the motivational fires in themselves and can translate that flame to others that are in need of a spark. True leaders lead by example.

5.They can make tough decisions

Making a decision takes a lot of courage – which is why so many people fear being wrong that they stay far away from pulling the trigger on an executive decision as possible. True leaders must make difficult and timely decisions that impact their organizations’ future.

6.They know how to squeeze the best from their team

“All great leaders know exactly what buttons to push and when to push them. They are experts at activating the talent that surrounds them.”

They know their team down to a science by understanding how each person thinks and how to best utilize their competencies correctly at all times. Remarkable leaders in the business sphere are acutely aware of the difference between management and employees, and conduct themselves according to this difference – but not in a egomaniacal way. They are conscious of their position, their image, how they communicate and conduct themselves in a way that allows for an objective perspective on everything that goes on around them.

Your title and tax bracket are completely irrelevant when it comes to holding a leadership position. You might not possess every single one of these qualities, but being a leader is not something you can take lightly and meaning you never rest on your laurels. Everyone can be a leader no matter his or her position in life. Stay true and lead by example. The same mindset translates over to the product management role with how PM’s have to lead through influence, even when they don’t have any direct authority over others. It takes a deep level of finesse to lead in this role, which is why top product managers need to be delicately chosen with a long-term scope in mind.