What IS a leader? What are the traits of an effective leader? How can these traits help people focus, succeed, make more money, and – essentially – make a positive, meaningful difference?

Great leaders in any business or enterprise possess solid social intelligence, a drive for change, and above all, a vision that allows them to set their sights on the “things” that truly merit attention. The people who can do this are the leaders who truly make positive and powerful changes.

Some of our society’s greatest leaders have very insightful opinions about leadership. For example:

• A  pioneer in the field of leadership studies, Warren Bennis, thinks that “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

• Human rights activist and youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai believes there’s a leader inside each of us, and that “If people were silent nothing would change.”

• Founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, says: “Leaders need to provide strategy and direction and to give employees tools that enable them to gather information and insight from around the world. Leaders shouldn’t try to make every decision.”

• Attorney, author, inspirational speaker, and former First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the fear of failure any leader faces, “Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience. Don’t be afraid to fail.”

• Leadership speaker and author John Maxwell explains that a leader is “one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

• Former Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, in dealing with international leaders and crises throughout her 16 years as a world leader, believes, “One has to try to find compromises with mutual respect, but also with a clear opinion… Always looking to find a way forward.”

• World War II General and United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something that YOU want done because HE wants to do it.”

While we know that there are different leaders needed for different situations, some facets of leadership are unchanging. Think about the last time you held a leadership position—mentoring a coworker, telling children what to do, whatever comes to mind. Now think about when you’ve tried to get someone to do something when they weren’t inspired or felt there was a reason to do it. How successful was your effort?  

Eisenhower’s point is so simple yet fundamental and appropriate for all areas of great accomplishment: leading soldiers into battle, gaining a consensus between opposing political parties, or motivating your team to take the necessary actions to be successful.

When you can help others see the goal AND see the proper path to take to reach that goal, you will be an extraordinary and successful leader. This ability is a wonderful example of Comfluential™ Leadership — not just telling but showing and inspiring!