What are the unique qualities of an excellent leader?

The round table question at the February CEOtoCEO Breakfast was “What are the unique qualities of an excellent leader?”  Attending CEOs offered a variety of responses including a compelling vision, active listening, rational decisions and strong relationships were offered by participants.

One of our speakers, Karen Lee, CEO of Pioneer Human Services who has previously excelled in leadership positions in government, utilities, education, law and the military offered Courage as the unique quality of an excellent leader.

Thought you might be interested in an expert from a post by Bill Treasurer that speaks to why courage is a central quality of excellent leaders.

Aristotle called courage the first virtue, because it makes all of the other virtues possible. In addition to being the most important human virtue, it is the most important business virtue, as well. Think about it: Other important business concepts like leadership, innovation and sales wither in the absence of courage. Leadership takes making bold and often unpopular decisions. Leadership takes courage. Innovation involves creating ground-breaking but tradition-defying ideas. Innovation takes courage. Sales requires being repeatedly rejected before closing a deal. Sales takes courage. Take away courage, and sales, innovation and leadership lose their potency.

Contrary to popular belief, courage is a teachable and learnable skill, and most everyone has the capacity to be courageous. Moreover, nearly all courageous acts represent one or more of three types of courage:

TRY Courage: The courage of initiative and action— making first attempts, pursuing pioneering efforts and stepping up to the plate.

TRUST Courage: The courage of confidence in others— letting go of the need to control situations or outcomes, having faith in people and being open to direction and change.

TRY Courage: The courage of voice— raising difficult issues, providing tough feedback and sharing unpopular opinions.

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