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What People Look For and Want in Their Leaders

What People Look For and Want in Their Leaders

By In News and Updates On October 01, 2021


In the Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner explore the expectations that people have of their leaders. They asked people to identify the personal traits, characteristics and attributes they look for and admire in a person whom they would be willing to follow.

From their research they identified a checklist of twenty Characteristics of Admired Leaders and then surveyed over one hundred thousand people asking them to select the seven qualities, from the list of twenty, that they “most look for and admire in a leader, someone whose direction they would willingly follow.” The key word in the statement is willingly.

The list is presented in alphabetical order.

Ambitious
Broad-minded
Caring
Competent
Co-operative
Courageous
Dependable
Determined
Fair-minded
Forward-thinking
Honest
Imaginative
Independent
Inspiring
Intelligent
Loyal
Mature
Self-controlled
Straight-forward
Supportive

Try these activities:

  1. From the list choose the top 7 characteristics that are important to you and you would like to see in a leader.
  2. How do you think you are perceived as a leader? Choose which characteristics you think you display and are known for.
  3. Four characteristics have been consistently identified at the top of the list for over 30 years. Which FOUR do you think they are?

The research by Kouzes and Posner shows the same four characteristics are consistent across countries, cultures, ethnicities, organizational functions and hierarchies, genders, levels of education and age groups.

The four characteristics that are consistently in the top four are:-

HONEST           FORWARD-THINKING              COMPETENT   and      INSPIRING

There has never been a more important time for leadership in schools and these traits are more important than ever.