- Courage, one of the essential qualities of leadership
- Self-confidence and keen spirit of initiative
- Ability to handle different kinds of people
- The ability of decision making
- An exceptional stamina Practicality
- An excellent public speaker
One of the essential qualities of leadership is courage and daring and a capacity to take risks. Whether it is the political sphere of life or the social sphere or the military sphere, a good leader must be fearless and he must not hesitate to take risks. Opponents who use strong, even abusive language and who make all kinds of wild allegations generally criticize a political leader or a social reformer. If he is sensitive to such criticism or he feels scared by threats, he will lose the balance of his mind and will prove himself an unworthy leader. Whether fighting an election, or making a policy statement, or urging a reform, a leader must remain totally undisturbed by the possibility of criticism or opposition. Criticism may be very bitter and the opposition may even become violent, but the true leader does not lose his nerve or his mental balance. In the military sphere, too, a leader must not feel disheartened by superior enemy strength. Even in the face of heavy odds, a military leader must not betray any signs of weakness. He should, instead, try to push forward even if there is a big risk in doing so.
A good leader has enormous self-confidence and a keen spirit of initiative and enterprise. A leader must have faith in himself and in his capacities. The least doubt in his mind will weaken his position. But, with complete self-confidence, he may emerge victorious even though he might have been in a weak position. Self-confidence, indeed, is one of the greatest qualities of leadership. Faith can move mountains, they say. Military leaders, with this quality of self-confidence, have been known to vanquish an enemy with much greater numerical strength. A good leader can inspire confidence in others too.
A good leader has the capacity to handle different kinds of people. Some persons are very difficult to manage; some are too obstinate and self-willed; some are very vain; some are unreliable and even tricky. A leader has to tackle all such person. To be able to do so, a leader must have a wide knowledge of human psychology. He must be shrewd and tactful. He must also be elastic rather than rigid and stiff in his attitude. Above all, he must have an accommodating spirit. He may be inflexible in his dealings with opponents, but he must show a spirit of compromise in dealing with his colleagues and followers.
A good leader has the power to take quick decisions in emergent situations. In normal times, a decision may be taken after calm and cool deliberation; a decision may take hours or days. But in emergencies, decisions have to be taken on the spot and at the spur of the moment. Even a little hesitation may spell disaster. This is especially true in times of war when every minute is important. In times of war, the Prime Minister and the military commanders must show a capacity to take swift decisions and prompt action.
A good leader must possess exceptional stamina. Whether in politics or in war, a good leader shows great powers of endurance. A leader has to undergo enormous physical and mental strain. He has fewer hours of rest than people. He may have to travel widely. He may have to attend conferences frequently. He may be severely taxed, physically and mentally. But he must not show signs of exhaustion or fatigue. A leader must never feel tired. He should therefore be a man of rare strength and energy.
A leader should be a practical man. No dreamer or visionary can become a successful leader. To maintain one’s leadership, one has to show concrete results. People will not follow a man who talks either above their heads or pure idealism. A leader knows the realities of life, the needs and aspirations of human beings, the capacities and abilities of those whom he leads, as also their limitations and short-comings. He thoroughly understands the human material which he commands and which he has to mould.
Finally, a good leader must be an excellent public speaker. He must be able to address large audiences and to control huge crowds with his oratory. With his powerful speeches, he must be able to influence the public. If he is military commander, he must be able to stir and arouse the enthusiasm of his drooping soldiers and to urge them to die rather than surrender, Oratory does, indeed, play a vital role in the field of leadership. No man ever became a real or effective leader without this quality.