What does it take to be a great leader? (Changeboard)

By Dr. Wanda Wallace


First, we tend to love leaders who are charismatic – witness any number of recent political campaigns where the more charismatic candidate won. However, in business charisma isn’t absolutely necessary. What is essential is the ability to communicate, connect with people and build trust.


In my experience, the natural level of charisma can always be improved by focusing on communication skills, executive presence and emotional intelligence. For some, the development is easier and faster than for others.


Second, we tend to believe, fueled by movies, TV series and popular media, that business leaders are all overly aggressive, self-interested, terrible leaders of people. It might surprise you that I often meet excellent leaders who genuinely care about their people. I regularly ask a workshop of high-potentials to think about someone they know reasonably well in their current company and who they admired as a leader. At least half the participants easily identify an admired leader – almost everyone eventually thinks of someone they admire. What sets those admired leaders apart from the rest? 


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