By Sicebise Msengana
The late Nelson Mandela, a lawyer and politician, was an outstanding leader. The way he led South Africa into democracy became one of the greatest marvels of the 20th Century. Which proves beyond doubt that good leaders take a lead. You may have heard the frequent comments, ''He is a born leader'' or ''Leaders are born.'' But how true are those statements? There are certain characteristics found in some people that seem to naturally put them in a position where they're looked up to as a leaders. What is a good leader?
A servant. The most respected and most powerful leaders are those who serve the people in their care. Mother Teresa gave her life in serving the most loathed, unloved and outcasts of India's poor. In her
service, she washed, cleaned dirty sores, spoke comforting words and offer hope to the dying. In this way she served, led people and allowed them to die with dignity. Nelson Mandela once said, ''I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people.''
Vision-orientated. Leaders are those people who are convinced they're called and set apart. To be a leader one needs a distinct vision. Without a vision there's nowhere to go. A leader will not only see the vision clearly but is also able to communicate it clearly with others in a way that is understood, and with a drive that motivates people enough to buy into it.
Have a thick skin. People usually look to the leader during times of uncertainty and unfamiliarity to find security and peace. A good leader leader remains calm, steadfast and in control of the situation. Storms, emotions, crises may come and go and a good leader remains unshaken and not discouraged.
Humble. Good leaders know they're not perfect. They admit their mistakes and learn from them. They always seek for what's best for others. Their intentions are pure and even if everything doesn't go according to plan people still respect them.
A good role model. Good leaders are great role models for their followers. Their actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, think more and become more. As the saying by John C Maxwell, ''Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far ahead to motivate them.''
Set high standards. Keep your promises and gain respect but break your promises and you will lose respect. Good leaders know what's doable and what's not. That's why they won't promise you the moon. To them a promise is a promise! A good leader lives an exemplary life, they ''walk the talk'' and are known to live their lives with honesty and integrity. Their conscience guides them.
Problem solvers. Good leaders know their talents, develops them and apply them towards making a difference. The world is plagued with a host of problems. That is where a good leader shows up, take no as an answer and solve the problem.
Responsible. A good leader takes the responsibility for his actions as well as others' actions. To tackle bigger problems, you're going to need to make decisions, and those decisions will affect the people who gave you that power. This is a responsibility as well as a badge of honor. Good leaders see themselves as the captain of the ship; the fate of the ship is essentially in their hands, and it's up to them to steer everyone into the right direction.
Optimistic. All good leaders are optimistic about the future and how things will turn out. They exercise wisdom when in charge; hope for the best and prepare for the worst. A leader who struggles with self-doubts and insecurities often becomes a bully.
An expert. A good leader is an expert in his or her field. A good leader has the ability to demonstrate the skills, experience and knowledge needed to undertake the job expected from him or her. It's important for leaders to show that they know their trade. People respect and listen to leaders because they're knowledgeable. Good leaders are trusted because of their expertise.
Leadership is no small business. Whether you're a business leader, politician, religious leader or a parent it's time to get the job done. People look up to you as a role model. Live up to the true definition of a ''leader.'' Until we truly realize that leaders need to act accordingly, we will suffer the consequences of bad leadership. Being a leader has nothing to do with scoring points from the opposite. It's about doing the right thing. If you have not really earned the title of being a leader, it's about time you asked yourself, why Am I such a drag on society?