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Leadership Qualities

Leadership Qualities

Some common qualities of a Leader for two great researchers which have stood the test of time about 3000 years. 

We have been told that deep expertise will lead to enhanced credibility, rapid job advancement, and escalating incomes and leadership roles. This advice cannot be far from the truth, the alternative of being open-minded and adaptive is usually dismissed.

The skill of the future that will help you be a leader, well, not quite a skill; but an approach, a philosophy, and a way of thinking — and it’s critical you adopt it as soon as you’re able. Old ways of thinking can not solve the problems that arise now, especially post or should I say current COVID. 

According to Harvard, the number one trait of eminent leaders is compassion and humility. They listen more than they talk, believe in empowering people and oppose micromanaging, trust also plays an important role while leading a group of people, a clear vision, with an adaptable mission. They are excellent communicators, which means they communicate openly and frequently, they know that communication is a two-way, that’s why they listen more… lol

I am an avid reader of Chanakya and Jim Collins articles and books, In a sense, therefore this article can be called a cheat sheet of leadership qualities. 

For people who don’t know about Chanakya, we know him as one of the greatest strategists in Indian history with immense knowledge and wisdom in subjects of commerce, warfare and economics. He is also mentioned as the “Pioneer Economist of India”. (371-283 BC)

Another great American researcher, author, speaker and consultant focused on the subject of business management and company sustainability and growth is Jim Collins. 

Both of them have written about leadership qualities, The common qualities between the both are as follows: 

Vision: the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.

Leaders, with a team or without, focus on their core values, purpose, mission, and have a clear vision. In the book Built to last… ‘Jim’ has pointed out visionary companies like Marriott, Procter & Gamble and Walt Disney, whose success have lasted the test of time, over at least 50 years. 

The same was true when Chanakya helped build an empire. He put vision, mission, and motivation ahead of everything else.

He then identified the need to focus on leadership requirements, organizational strategies, and human dimensions.

Values: a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

According to Chanakya, the essence of leadership lies in open-mindedness and justness. According to Collins, in his book “Great by Choice” it lies in Level 5 Ambition “SMaC recipe”–a set of Specific, Methodical and Consistent operating practices–that they use to translate their business strategies into real world practices, here leaders 10X channel their energies away from their own self and focus on the best of their team or follower. Both Chanakya and Collins say that leaders serve the needs of the people they lead and concern themselves less with power, rewards, and recognition for themselves.

Identity and Temperament: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. 

Collins emphasizes having the “right people on the bus” as the top priority for any executive. He summarizes the non-technical qualities required for leadership as attitude, knowledge, and skill.

Chanakya placed great emphasis on people development. He identified the basic non-technical qualities required for every effective executive: character, ability to concentrate, ability to think, ability to communicate, and ability to observe. He insisted that the king surround himself with people who possess these skills. 


Chanakya saw self-discipline, integrity, courage, decisiveness, sensitivity towards others, humility, and selflessness in great leaders. He said that great leaders are sensitive to the needs, feelings, and motivation of the people they lead. Today, we call this servant leadership. “Intense will and humility are the most  important characteristics of leaders in the 21st century,” writes Collins; “[Level 5 leaders] strive to “build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” He says that until today’s leaders make the transition to develop intense will and humility, their ethic deficiencies will negatively affect the performance and sustainability of their organizations.


Chanakya stressed the need for planning, saying that a failure to plan is a plan to fail. He also said that people should be firm about the goal but flexible with the process of achieving it. Likewise, Collins claims organizations are in desperate need of greater discipline: disciplined planning, disciplined people, disciplined governance, and disciplined allocation of resources. “Preserve the core, but stimulate progress,” he writes.


Chanakya taught that knowledge is important and cumulative, and that slight differences in ability can lead to enormous differences in results. Therefore, he encouraged people to focus on acquiring knowledge in their pursuit of superior results. Similarly, Collins claims the barrier to growth is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge. Level 5 leaders have the humility to admit what they don’t know, and they do something about it. Recognizing the need for and diligently pursuing knowledge is supreme.

Results & Success

Chanakya says that success is no accident; it results from well-thought actions aligned with focused vision. To sustain success, he says, organizations must implement a reliable system to collect real feedback and put corrective actions into place. Likewise, Collins writes that success comes through focus on the “Hedgehog Concept”, the intersection of each organization’s unique passion, best-in-the-world ability, and economic engine. Organizations that know their Hedgehog and operate within it are far more successful than those that don’t

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