Today, companies are looking for individuals who can think independently and have the necessary leadership qualities to help make their organization successful. Explore what leadership and independent thinking are and learn about some of the most common skills and attributes that accompany both.

Definition of Leadership

Many people have different definitions for leadership, but in general, leadership is the ability of one person to gain support and buy-in to accomplish a common task or goal. It is simply an ability to get people to follow you. Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Bill Gates, and Michael Jordan are all leaders in different ways.

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Abraham Lincoln was a man of integrity and commitment to a higher purpose. Napoleon used his creative military strategies and charismatic social skills to rule a great empire. Bill Gates used his intelligence and passion for computers to build Microsoft, and Michael Jordan became one of the greatest basketball leaders and players of all time because of his desire to continually improve, work hard, and take over in tough situations late in the game.

Leadership Skills

There are hundreds of books on leadership. After a few trips to Barnes and Noble, you would see that almost every month a new book comes out with the latest secrets and skills from someone on the business, political, or religious front. Many of these books define similar traits, attributes, and skills that make a good leader. Some of the most common include:

  • Intelligence – or one’s overall capacity to problem solve, reason, plan, and logically think and communicate.
  • Another trait is social skills – or the ability to communicate and easily interact with others.
  • Passion makes the list as well, and entails a strong desire or enthusiasm for a project or cause.
  • Leaders also demonstrate commitment – or a pledge and willingness to not give up, even when things aren’t going well.
  • Integrity – or having good morals and always being honest and truthful, is another common trait.
  • Leaders also display self-confidence, which is being sure in your own abilities, reason, and judgement.
  • Creativity – or the ability to problem solve and find unique solutions that others may not have thought of, is another one.
  • Additionally, leaders work well under stress and have the ability to perform at a higher level when things go wrong or there are time constraints.
  • Independent thinking is also key. Leaders have the ability to make sense of things based on your own experiences and observations.

Independent Thinking

Many leaders do not have all the skills mentioned above, but they often have several of them and can apply their different skills and traits at the right times to be effective. Most leaders have the independent thinking skill though, which can encompass some of the other important leadership skills. Good leaders are independent thinkers and trust in their own ability to make judgments, even if others don’t believe in them or disagree with their approach.

Independent thinking is an essential part of leadership because leaders need to make decisions, and many times those decisions are hard and not decisions that others want to make. Believe it or not, the right idea does not usually pop into a leader’s head the first moment she or he tackles a problem or situation. Independent thinking involves working to understand the problem, listening to others, brainstorming for solutions, evaluating possibilities, and making a confident decision to move forward. Independent thinkers are confident in their abilities and often not afraid to make mistakes as they learn and strive to find solutions to everyday challenges and problems. Thomas A Edison, who is often credited with creating the light bulb, was quoted as saying ‘I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’

Lesson Summary

Leadership is an ability to get others to follow you in completing a task or common goal. Several skills are important to being a good leader, such as intelligence, social skills, passion, commitment, integrity, self-confidence, creativity, ability to work well under stress, and independent thinking. Independent thinking is one of the most common skills all leaders have: it is the ability to make sense of things based on your own experiences and observations. Independent thinkers are confident in their abilities and understand that making mistakes is a natural process to coming up with the right solutions.