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To lead people, walk beside them ... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate ... When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves!'
- Lao-Tsu


Good leaders are required in all walks of life, in all professional fields. A good leader can motivate and inspire those around them to strive to achieve much more than they thought they could. The position of a good leader is indispensable. A good leader has the knack to align his team members and prepare them to take on any challenge that may lay in their path towards success.

There are a number of qualities that one seeks for in a potential leader. Some of the important ones include - a strong personality, good character, enthusiasm, confidence, tenacity, etc. However, there are four qualities that are most desirable in a good leader. Here is an account of those qualities.

4 Pillars of Good Leadership

1. Ability and Confidence to Take Risks

A leader needs to have the ability to take risks. This ability comes with confidence in your decisions and yourself. It is claimed that higher the risk, higher is the gain. However, it need not always be so. A good leader should hence be able to weigh the pay-off of each situation properly. Someone who is happy being where he/she is will never make a good leader. A good leader should not rest on past laurels. A leader who does that soon loses his/her position. People are quick to remove such leaders from the pedestals they had set them upon. The constant urge for innovation is one of the most important leadership qualities. It helps the leader to be in tune with the modern times. It enables the leader to prepare his/her team to face new challenges much more effectively. A leader doesn't accept society's definitions of what is possible and what isn't. They break all barriers, go beyond connotations and achieve something extraordinary. Good leaders refuse to allow norms and limits defined by society to guide their actions or plans. Everything is possible for a good leader, despite the arduous and bumpy road to getting there.

2. Mental Strength and Stability

A leader needs to be mentally strong. He should also have a stability and calm about his personality. A leader is always under the microscope; there will be more than single occasion when a leader will be questioned about his/her judgment and / or decisions. Only a tough leader Will be able to live through and overcome such periods of trials. Leadership creates a certain separation from one's peers; this separation comes from carrying responsibilities that only a leader is capable of. A leader must be able to be strong in such a situation. It is not possible for a person to please everyone; a good leader must be able to keep his/her own counsel until the proper time. A leader should possess the ability to live with criticism and not be affected by it. Leaders must be able to limit the impact of stress on their lives. A good leader thrives on the energy of stressful situations, not the negativity. Good leaders have a self-esteem and self-confidence to ride out of any tough situation.

3. Superior Communication Skills

Effective leadership necessitates good communication skills. By communication skills, I mean talking AND listening skills. A leader needs to create a proper system of communication for the organization. All interactions should take place without hurting anybody, especially the minorities. Leaders should possess the ability to ask the right questions. However, the role of a leader goes beyond himself; it also extends to the team he creates/elects. A good leader should also possess superior interviewing skills in order to choose the right candidate. He should clearly communicate the objectives and procedures required for a task. Though not absolutely a prerequisite, a leader should be good at reading body language. A leader has to be open to constructive feedback, but should also have the ability to convince others and communicate their vision to their team. A leader should motivate his team to work and strive to do better.

4. Going the Extra Mile

Good leaders always put more effort than the organization expects from them. They do activities that the majority of people won't do. Where most people quit, they persevere. All these things contribute to make them a good leader. Through their actions, dedication and excellence, a leader should set an example to their team. Leaders do not only motivate themselves in personal development but also motivate those around them. Good leaders do what is necessary to upgrade their knowledge and skills and be on the cutting edge in their field.

To end the article on a positive and hopeful note, I will quote Walter Lippmann - "The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on." Superior leadership is essential in today's high-pressure competitive world. Indeed, a leader should be able to prepare his team to such a level that they would never need another leader ever again.