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"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." - John C. Maxwell

What is leadership? Who qualifies to become one? Well, it is a skill to influence a group of individuals to willfully follow a direction, in order to achieve the ultimate goal of the organization. Is it a difficult job? It surely is. It involves dealing with a complex set of people; complex because every individual is different, with different attitudes, temperaments, needs, and competence, and convincing all of them to follow a particular path is, undoubtedly, a very daunting task. If you aspire to become one, then it is imperative for you to know and understand the different traits and principles that need to be acquired and followed for attaining success. None of us is perfect, and certainly, not all of us are born leaders. Of course, these personality traits also play a very crucial and significant role. However, these are some things that can be worked upon and will improve with time and experience.

Leadership in the 21st Century

If we study the trend, we can notice that there is a tremendous difference between leadership styles followed in the 19th and 20th century and the ones followed in the 21st century. There is a huge difference, and this is due to the expansion of business and trade in the global economy. With the rise in the number of various sectors and avenues in the economy, there is a huge demand for good leaders. This is not a concern though, as nowadays, many students are pursuing management courses because of their popularity and heavy pay-packages provided by some industries. This is indeed meeting the demand. However, for an industry, quality is as much, or rather more important than the quantity, and management is in any case different from leadership. Employees are the most important people of any organization. It is not artificial intelligence that we are talking about, but it is human intelligence, which can be influenced by infinite factors. To manage people is a very challenging job, and only the person with the right approach would be able to survive in the long run.

Principles and Traits

The qualities that identify a true leader are as follows:

Vision
This is one of the most definite qualities that you'll find in an absolute leader. He has this extraordinary ability to foresee the future. It is not just a dream but a realistic one, as these great thinkers can foresee the change, the challenges that they might have to face, and the way to survive and evolve in the future.

Goal Oriented
Another must-have quality includes setting goals for the organization. Other than setting goals for themselves as individuals, it is imperative for him to set goals for the organization and the employees respectively.

Great and Quick Thinkers
The ability to think quick and smart is another important attribute that distinguishes a true leader from others. It's a tough market out there, and the one who can think smartly and quickly can sustain this huge challenge and continue to thrive.

Setting an Example
Being a leader is not easy; it means that you are a role model to many in your organization. He is an inspiration to everyone, and besides wanting your employees to work, you want them to perform. Employees tend to watch their leaders closely, the kind of demeanor they carry, the way they speak to them, and the general behavior at work. Hence, it is essential to keep a positive attitude even in tough situations.

Motivation
For a leader, it is important to understand the level of motivation of the employees in an organization. According to the Maslow's Hierarchy Theory, a human being has different needs at different levels. Understanding these needs and making the employees realize what they are needed to do to give their hundred percent at work are the important qualities that one must develop over time. A little motivation could work wonders for your employees and the organization, as well.

Recognition
Rewarding and recognizing the employees for the work done is another important trait that many tend to miss out, and that is the reason for many unsatisfied employees. Remember, your employees are most valuable for the success of your organization, and they also have many options available in this fast-paced world. So, if you don't appreciate and acknowledge the contributions they make in your success, then they would have no qualms in leaving you because they have other places to consider.

Now, if you are thinking about how to apply these principles, then do not worry. Once you acquire the aforementioned qualities, then you'd be able to apply them naturally in your day-to-day actions at work. These are the most important qualities that one requires to become a successful leader, and not having and pursuing them would mean that you are, merely, managing people and not leading them.