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Leadership, the ability to motivate groups of people towards a common goal, is an important skill in today's business world. Without strong leadership, many otherwise good businesses fail. Understanding the characteristics of strong leaders and cultivating those skills is useful for those pursing a career in business.

Many of the world's most respected leaders have several personality traits in common. Some of the most recognizable traits are the ability to initiate change and inspire a shared vision, as well as knowing how to "encourage the heart" and model the skills and behaviors that are necessary to achieve the stated objectives. Good leaders must also be confident enough in themselves to enable others to contribute and succeed.

The Ability to Initiate Change -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Good leaders are never satisfied with the status quo and usually take action to change it. In addition, strong leaders bring about change for the common good by involving others in the process. F.D.R. sought practical ways to help struggling men and women make a better world for themselves and their children. His philosophy was, "bold, persistent experimentation...Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." Being willing to take risks by trying new ideas and involving others in the process of change is a key quality of strong leaders.

Inspiring a Shared Vision -- The Leadership of Martin Luther King

Leaders, through their words and actions, must have the ability to draw others into a common vision by telling others where they intend to go and urging them to join in that vision. Martin Luther King's vision of a country free from racial segregation and discrimination, so poignantly expressed in his famous "I have a dream..." speech, exemplifies this critical leadership trait. King had a vision of a better America, and his ability to bring both whites and blacks together to march against segregation changed America profoundly.

Model Leadership -- Mohandas K. Ghandi

Strong leaders not only need to have a vision and the ability to initiate change, they must model the values, actions, and behaviors necessary to make the vision reality. Ghandi not only created and espoused the philosophies of passive resistance and constructive non-violence, he lived by these principles. According to Indira Gandhi, "More than his words, his life was his message." By choosing to consistently live and work in a manner that exemplified the values he believed in, Ghandi engendered trust, becoming a role model for others looking to affect change without resorting to violence.

Encouraging the Heart -- The Leadership of Winston Churchill

On December 29, 1940, London was hit by one of the largest aerial attacks of World War II. Somehow, St. Paul's Cathedral survived. Two days later a photo showing a silhouette of the dome of St. Paul's, surrounded by smoke and flames ran in the paper with a caption that read, "It symbolises the steadiness of London's stand against the enemy: the firmness of right against wrong." Churchill recognized the importance of St. Paul's as a morale booster. His instructions were clear on that December night, "At all costs, St. Paul's must be saved." Leaders must be able to encourage the hearts of those who share their vision, providing a sense of confident optimism even in the face of enormous difficulties.

Leadership Training For Business Success

Leaders are rarely (if ever) born, which is why online leadership training can make a real difference if you are currently pursuing your bachelor's degree. By combining your online business degree with leadership training classes, you will not only gain confidence, you'll learn the skills necessary to inspire others to success. Online leadership training isn't just for those with online business degrees or even bachelor's degrees. Online training can be used to improve leadership skills regardless of a student's educational background or the type of industry she presently works in. After all, good leaders are always in demand.

Sources:
The Time 100, Leaders and Revolutionaries (www.time.com)
What Makes A Great Leader (www.pastors.com)
The Blitz: London's Longest Night (www.pbs.org)

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