When you think of leadership you are actually thinking about influence. At its core, leadership is really about influencing the people around you, and the ability to move them in a certain direction to obtain certain goals or objectives.

When looking for leadership in your business or organization — perhaps in yourself — there are several factors that are part of all great leaders. Consider the following 12 factors to improve your leadership skills or help you identify those individuals in your business that can take over leadership positions.

1. Motivation

Motivation is a huge key to any successful enterprise. Remember what motivates one person may not motivate another. True leaders can quickly identify motivating factors in an individual, in order to move them or influence them in a certain direction. Some of the strongest motivators include money, fear, time, and power. In most cases individuals will be motivated by several factors, however one factor will prove to be the dominant one. When you find out what it is and how to use it, your ability to influence will be greatly improved.

2. Tolerance

Tolerance is the ability to respect others’ views, without selling yourself out. It is of utmost importance to understand where the organization or people are coming from and to realize that they may not understand your position. In order to accomplish this you must be an excellent communicator.

3. Trust

Trust is necessary to create the right environment. Consider the three sides of a triangle — or the BLT, which stands for Believe, Like, and Trust. Your goal is always to attempt to have individuals and businesses believe, like, and trust you and your organization. When you accomplish this, you are well on your way to professional and personal success.

4. Purpose

Purpose is your mission — the driving forces behind your business. You should clearly know and understand your purpose and the purpose of the individuals around you. In some cases, your team may not fully understand the real purpose of their job or the organization. It is a leader’s responsibility to effectively convey the mission and purpose to others. Leaders know their purpose and the purpose of those around them.

5. Vision

All leaders have a clear vision, which is really what the ideal future will look like. It is important that a vision include values, and it is critical that good leadership makes sure that the people and organization agree with the vision. When a leader’s vision does not match the organizational vision problems will arise.

6. Attitude

This may seem like a small thing, but a positive attitude can make a big difference and, conversely, a negative attitude can make a big difference too — but not in a good way. People and organizations feed off of leaders, and those with positive attitudes will receive the best response.

7. Awareness

A leader’s awareness is the understanding of not just their own identity, but also the identity of the people around them and the organization they represent. Each and every individual has a core identity, and understanding that core will improve your leadership.

8. Determination

It is impossible to become an effectual leader without this trait. Failure often accompanies leadership, and those who are not determined will never get off the mat and pull themselves back up. When determination starts to disappear, leadership will begin to fail. Determin-ation never takes a vacation or gets sick; it should be working every day.

9. Faith

A great leader must have faith that they will succeed, but equally important is that they have faith in the people and organization around them. The best leaders believe in themselves. In order for your organization and the people around you to believe in you, it is critical that you first believe in yourself.

10. Inspiration

Leaders are always looking for new ideas and different places to find them. Leaders are not afraid to solicit new ideas from others. Businesses constantly need new ideas to improve their products and/or services, and some of the best ideas are inspired by something or someone.

11. Willpower

Effective leaders know how to control their emotions and do not allow others to control their emotions or dictate their reactions. Willpower is critical for all leaders and is absolutely necessary to succeed. Life and business are very similar: things will almost never go as planned, so be prepared.

12. Patience

Patience means that no matter what the challenge is, a leader never gives up. Your business and the people around you sense this and respond to it. Patience goes hand-in-hand with commitment, which means that when a leader says something, they do something. They take action steps, they set examples, and, when this is done, people and organizations respond.

It’s interesting how patience appears last on the list. Success and effective leadership happen over time and not overnight.

Kevin Coughlin, DMD, MBA, MAGD is an accomplished dentist, author, and speaker. He provides small businesses with actionable solutions when considering strategic change, as well as keys to compete in an expansive market. For more information please visit www.Ascent-Dental-Solutions.com.