Chris Shilling asked:
Many books have been written about leadership and what makes someone a good and effective leader. Numerous studies have been conducted and you can even get degrees on the subject. So many characteristics can contribute to being a great leader (A little charisma never hurt anyone). However, in the end there is one key ingredient every leader needs. This is the foundation that keeps the house of cards from tumbling to the floor. It is simple, effective, and easy to implement. A good leader needs to care. Without this foundation it does not matter how great your leadership skills are, you will fail.
To be a leader you must care about the vision, the mission, and the people around you. Care about them so much that you want everyone to succeed even more then yourself. Their success is your success and they deserve all of the credit and recognition. This caring will lead to empowerment. Instead of wanting to feel powerful, you care so much that you want to empower others. If you show people that you truly care about them they will follow you. The great leaders in history were great because they cared so much. Look at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Mother Theresa. They all had different leadership styles, strengths, and weaknesses. But they cared. They cared so much, and believed in their causes to such a degree, that people followed them. People devoted their lives to them. This is something that anyone can achieve. True leaders are not born they are developed because of their passion for the vision and commitment to people.
Think about a time you had a boss you felt just did not care about you and how that made you feel. You probably felt like he or she was someone you did not want to follow. These people were not leaders. They were not able to unite individuals to guide them towards a common vision. Their lack of caring had already sabotaged their efforts from the beginning. So forget about all the techniques, styles, and everything else you have been told you must learn about. Start to care and it will become contagious.