What are the Characteristics of Leadership?

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Much has been written on the characteristics of leadership. What do leaders actually do? How do they do it? How do they interact with their followers? What are the methods by which they are able to influence and guide.

Of course, various authors and researchers have had their say on such matters.

Listed below therefore, is a table from the likes of James Kouzes and Barry Posner on the left side as reflected in their book “The Leadership Challenge” across to John P Kotter in his publication “The Force for Change.”

Not surprisingly, all these authors have their perspective on leadership and while a case can be made for some overlap, there are also some differences.

Kouzes & Posner

“The Leadership Challenge”

Warren Bennis

“Leader, Why Leader Can’t Lead”

Ken Blanchard

“Situational Leadership, The One-Minute Leader”

Terry Anderson

“Transforming Leadership”

Tom Peters

“Thriving on Chaos”

Stephen Covey

“Principle-Centered Leadership”

John P. Kotter

“A Force for Change”

Challenges the process

Creates an inspired vision

Sets clear goals

Well-defined sense of mission, purpose, value, goals

Vision that guides all activity

Continually learning

Establishing Direction

Inspires a shared vision

Manages others by example

Provides clear direction

Exceptional physical health


Service orientated

Aligning People

Enables others to act

Visible to employees, customers, vendors

Supports people as they need it

Exercise self-mastery

Willing to share achievement

Radiates positive energy

Aligning People

Models the way

Listens attentively

Delegates and empowers as followers are ready to accept

Uses course correction

Displays caring

Has love supported by faith and hope

Motivating and inspiring produces change

Encourages the heart

Delegates to the front line

Provides feedback on performance

Is results orientated


Is typically grateful


Builds a flatter organisation

Is flexible

Manages change

Committed to employees and their projects

Sense of wonder about life


Assures essential training


Develops team to accomplish results

Likes to be surrounded by highly competent people

Courage combined with emotional vulnerability


Search for truth and beauty


Caring, sharing, and forgiving


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  1. Our blended learning approach (training + coaching) results in 88% transference of learning for immediate workplace application
  2. 3CM’s emphasis is on practical, transformative learning – not simply transmissive or transactional learning
  3. 3CM has been a qualified registered training organisation (RTO) delivering nationally recognised training since 1990
  4. We embed proven world-class psychometrics and methodology used by Fortune 500 companies into our training programmes.

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