In the second session of our new Finding Your EPIC series, Epic Performance, we explored the three traits that all great leaders have – and they’re much simpler than you may think.
Great performance starts with understanding who we are, what our strengths are, and how we can leverage them to stand out. With this knowledge, we can evidence our leadership potential.
Sounds simple, right?
The most common obstacle standing in our way
There’s a big reason most people don’t evidence their leadership potential: it’s difficult.
Having spent almost 15 years as a leadership coach equipping women with the tools they need to move along the career corridor, the one thing I see most people struggle with is strategy.
Designing and implementing a strategy is one of the most challenging parts of improving our performance.
We can think of it this way: it’s much easier to hire a personal trainer who has all the knowledge and experience to tell us exactly what to do than it is to walk into a gym alone and design our own workout.
Our Elevate Talent virtual programme is to women in business what a professional trainer is to people at the gym. We’re on a mission to equip women with strategies for success, backed up by almost seven years of feedback and data.
So, what exactly is our strategy for success when it comes to leadership performance?
Let’s dive in.
The three traits all great leaders have
The best part about these traits is that they aren’t hyperspecific. They offer a broad view of great leadership that can be tailored to our unique strengths.
Great leaders always have some sort of talent. Before we panic and think, “I don’t know what my talent is!” rest assured we all have one. Perhaps we’re good with numbers, or have a knack for finding patterns. Maybe we’re able to offer creative solutions to problems, or spot opportunities where no one else does.
On their own, these talents aren’t enough to immediately secure a leadership role, but when we identify, embody, and leverage our talents in combination with points 2 and 3 on this list, we’re well on our way.
It’s important we make this distinction: we’re not talking about charm as the adjective charming.
Charm in this context is used to describe the qualities we have that not only make us stand out from others, but crucially, that make us likeable.
For example, perhaps we are exceptionally:
- Quick witted
These qualities are what shine out of us and what make others mark us as someone worth investing time in.
Of course, the opposite of all these qualities – for example arrogance, inconsistency, and a lack of empathy – would have the opposite effect of charming others. Characteristics like this would make us quite unlikable and would tell the people around us that we are not leadership ready. It’s just as important that we think about whether we embody any of these negative traits, and what we can do to minimise them.
Identifying our charm isn’t an exercise in arrogance. In fact, when we’re aware of the unique value we can add to an environment or situation, we can stop comparing ourselves to others, stop focusing on what we lack, and start focusing on the assets we possess that can boost our potential.
A great quote based on Napoleon Hill’s 16 Laws of Success is:
“Persistence is the final piece in the formula for success — because without it, your efforts will always fall short. Success is a numbers game. The law of averages does not work if you only try once.”
There are many reasons people give up, and most of the time it’s not because they’re lazy or unambitious.
It’s not enough to say we gave up and failed to persevere at something. We need to ask why; why did we lack persistence? Did we get distracted? Was there a lack of support?
Examining why we are able to persevere or why we feel inclined to give up allows us an understanding of what motivates us and why. We can use this knowledge to design strategies tailored to us that ensure we don’t get knocked off track.
Why all three traits of great leadership are equally important
Meat Loaf said, “Two out of three ain’t bad” – but was he right?
Unfortunately, when it comes to the three qualities of leadership, two out of three just doesn’t cut it. To be a truly great leader, we need to demonstrate all three of these qualities.
Let’s consider the example we used in the session:
Marvin Gaye is arguably one of the most talented singer-songwriters in American history. At the start of his career, he had bagfuls of talent and no problem with perseverance – but what he lacked was stage presence. He suffered crippling self-doubt and stage fright – he was missing the “charm” element.
It’s not that he wasn’t charming (we’ve all seen his smile!) but rather he was missing something that set him apart as his unique quality, outside of talent and perseverance. He needed something that would allow him to command the stage and cement him as a leader in his industry.
Marvin dedicated time to building up his performance confidence, and with it his charisma, ultimately achieving the stage presence he dreamed of. Without this crucial third element, and with just his talent and perseverance, it’s unlikely Marvin Gaye would have stood out amongst the millions of talented, ambitious and determined singer-songwriters.
He needed to find a way to embody and evidence his unique specialness. We can look at it from another angle, too: with talent and charm but no perseverance, Marvin Gaye would have been a one-hit wonder. And with charm and perseverance but no talent… well, it’s unlikely he’d have released even one successful song.
The foundation of leadership success
The best creators, innovators, and leaders always have all three of the above traits. We can think of them as umbrella terms. Of course, there will be lots of characteristics that fall under each category, but at the very base level, the foundation of their success is always made up of talent, charm, and perseverance.
If you’d like to build a foundation of success upon which you can show your leadership ability, have a look at the topics we cover in Elevate here. To be kept up to date with new articles, follow us on LinkedIn – we’ll let you know every time a new blog goes live.