Who is a leader? A good definition would be someone who has a certain vision and is able to inspire others to join in her or his journey to realize that vision. Historically, the greatest leaders are those who changed the lives and life circumstances of their people. They stood their ground in the face of difficult odds, challenged the existing system and dedicated their lives for a better world.
It is widely acknowledged that circumstances make leaders. But there are a few personality traits that are needed to let a person rise to the challenge of their circumstances. Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro – these names are counted amongst the best leaders of the world even today. What did they have or do that thousands revere their names till today?
Empathy is easily one of the most important traits required of a leader. Empathy allows you to understand people and truly connect with them. It lets people know you care about them and that in turn raises their trust in you. Each of the above names were first and foremost interested and moved by the situation of their people. That empathy led them and in turn helped them lead the people to change.
The power to dream an audacious dream
All these leaders dared to dream of a world that seemed impossible in their time. They then gave their all to turn that dream into a reality. The very fact that they were able to achieve what seemed impossible is what cemented their status in the list of the best leaders of the world.
Conviction in the face of all odds
They faced innumerable hurdles in their journey. Some of them were penalized for their work and faced jail time, but that did not deter them. They were convinced about their beliefs, work and eventual success and did not give in to any pressure. This conviction gave them the strength to continue despite all odds being stacked against them.
Leading by example
All these leaders didn’t just ask people to change or do things. They showed people by changing their own lives first. Whether it was living simple, incorporating equality in their own lives or being in the midst of the battle, these leaders were in the front lines of the action. That was the number one reason why they were able to influence and inspire the masses to follow in their footsteps.
Belief in people and social justice
The dignity of all human beings was their basic principle and starting point. They believed in an equal and just world, and inspired others to believe in it too. That endeared them to the people and encouraged them to stand together in all difficult circumstances.
A leader is not one who advances personally. The best leaders are those who go beyond their personal life and can inspire others to do the same.