Leadership is the biggest need of the world right now. We need to more leaders who can chart unknown seas and inspire more people to their greatness. For me leadership all about dreaming big, inspiring others and leading by example.

Warren Bennis wrote one of the best books on leadership called “On Becoming a Leader.” I liked the 4 qualities of a leader he identified, and I think it will stand the test of time. Here are the 4 qualities of great leaders.

They create shared meaning: This is all about having the vision that uplifts people to their greatness. You need to find that vision which will move you and others. John F Kennedy’s vision of putting a man on the moon is one of the best examples of an audacious vision. The best part of it was it was so compelling that it outlived the visionary. Vision is the first step to becoming a great leader. Similarly in your personal life you can imagine that you arrive at 2040 and decide what you want your life to look like. Having this picture of an ideal vision will motivate you to align your actions to get you where you want to be 20 years from now. Somehow we think vision is only for CEO’s but my point is all of us can create an exciting vision for our lives which will increase joy.

They have a distinctive voice: This is all about confidence and emotional intelligence. As a leader people must see your unique voice coming out. Authenticity is the key because no one will follow you if you are like everyone else. We all have a distinctive voice and it is our duty to find that and express it to others. As Stephen Covey said the eighth habit is all about finding your voice and helping others find their voice. Voice is where your talents intersect with a specific need.

They have high integrity: We have seen what happened with Enron or any other scandals where top leaders lost it. It is better not to try to go too high too fast and fall. Rather it is better to build your inner strength so that when you do become a top leader you have built yourself so much that you don’t take any shortcuts. Being honest and truthful with everyone around you is a wonderful way to exhibit integrity. If your deeds match your words your life will speak loudly.

They have adaptive capacity: This is the most important quality of a 21st century leader. This is all about managing relentless change and adapting to it. It is all about grit and hardiness. You must be totally adaptable if you want to thrive in the turbulent waters of the 21st century. Develop your grit muscles and that’s when the true leader is revealed.

There you have it the 4 qualities of a great leader that you can incorporate into your leadership style. I liked what Kissinger said about the presidents he worked with “Presidents don’t do great things by dwelling on their limitations, but by dwelling on their possibilities.” Thanks for reading this post.

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.