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Character traits of a leader

This article written by Robin Sharma appeared in Times of India. I would like to share it with you as it has lots of nuggets. Have a fantastic weekend. Enjoy the article and please feel free to share your comments.

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Traits of a leader

by Robin Sharma

In my leadership development work with companies like IBM, FedEx and Nike and as an executive coach to many of the superstars in business, I have been blessed to have been able to closely observe the traits that the best use to get better - and achieve longevity within their careers and within themselves. Here are some of their personal practices for sustainability:

1. They have a lust for learning. There is a cure for anti-aging that actually works - it's called lifelong learning. To ABL (Always Be Learning) is to stay young forever. The best in business have boundless curiosity and open minds. And this allows them to work and live with a childlike sense of wonder as well as access the world-class levels of creativity that fuels their professional success. They read constantly. They listen to books on CD. And they understand that everyone they meet knows at least one thing that they don't. So they ask good questions (like any good leader). In this world of dazzling change and stunning opportunity, ideas are the commodity of success. And a passion for learning makes you a human idea factory.

2. They devote to NSI. A mantra of many world-class businesspeople is Never Stop Improving. As I've written in my book The Greatness Guide, nothing fails like success. Success is seductive. It can make one complacent and inefficient and stale. Too often, once a person (as well as an organization) becomes successful, the very things that created that success get neglected. The best businesspeople have a hunger to make their todays better than their yesterdays. They have a staggeringly large appetite for pushing the envelope. They stretch their personal frontiers by taking risks and by running to their fears and by improving every area of their lives. Relentlessly. And this serves to keep them young at heart. And at the cutting edge for years.

3. They know that health is wealth. At a leadership seminar I delivered in Delhi to executives, a participant handed me a piece of paper that said: "health is the crown on the well man's head that only the ill man can see." Big idea. We take our health for granted until we lose it. And if we do, we spend 24/7 trying to get it back. It's fascinating to me how, while we are young, we are willing to sacrifice our health for wealth and yet, when we grow old-we become willing to give up all of our accumulated wealth for one day of good health. Getting into work-class physical condition will make you more creative, energetic, focused and happy. Make that leap today.

4. They find a Cause. In The Greatness Guide, I write that the real secret to immortality and longevity is to find a cause that's larger than yourself and then have the courage to donate your life to it. That cause might be being an extraordinary leader who creates an extraordinary organization that creates extraordinary value for it's customers. That cause might be to be a person devoted to leaving everyone you meet better than you found them. That cause might mean being a manager that develops the highest potential of his people and evokes their greatness. My Dad shared an Indian saying with me as I grew up that still lives within my imagination: "when you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cried while you rejoice."


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