For the month of July, our Omnia team is putting attention on the traits of leadership in honor of the celebration of the birth of our American nation. Our first blog covered the personality traits of our founding fathers. Now we cast our eyes on current times and what revolutionary leadership looks like in today’s context.
This is a bit of a tough topic today in a world that seems more divided than ever, where leaders are shouting over each other and appear more focused on alienating ideals instead of pursuing common ground to address the core problems at hand.
Revolutionary is defined as involving or causing a complete or dramatic change. When we think about revolutionary leadership the first thing that comes to mind besides our founding fathers are the high profile leaders we see in the daily news headlines or being lauded (or condemned) across social media. Today’s revolutionary context conjures up images of courageousness, boldness, a lot of publicity and — let’s face it — sometimes the loudest voice.
When I asked my network to weigh in on this, the most popular response was Volodymyr Zelenskyy. No matter your political views, I don’t think anyone can argue that he has been the most visible demonstration of courage, fortitude and commitment to his people and cause. I admire his boldness, steadfastness, brave leadership and commitment to the people of Ukraine.
Other high-profile people who come to mind are those who have been personally impacted and are fighting a system that did them wrong with a focus on helping the next generation. I admire Aly Raisman who was willing to share her grueling and personal story of abuse and manipulation to change the tide for future women athletes. Not to mention her continued work with fellow victims to take on a behemoth like the FBI. And Megan Rapinoe fighting for salary transparency and against a culture of systemic bias that leads to unequal pay.
These are all high-profile revolutions happening in today’s time. But what about revolution at the ground level? What does it take to be a revolutionary leader wherever you are with whatever cause that means something personally to you? The good news is we can all be revolutionary in our own right if we embrace the unique and common traits of a revolutionary leader.
First let’s start with basic personality traits of all leaders and the way we define it at Omnia with science. The Omnia Leadership Profile is derived from a short yet powerful assessment instrument that allows people to freely describe their personality traits. We use an 8-column bar graph to visually show an individual’s personality traits in 4 areas – Assertiveness, Sociability, Pace, and Structure. The odd-numbered columns represent active traits while the even-numbered columns represent passive traits. All of these combinations contribute to Omnia’s 17 personality groups, a few of which are most common among leaders.
Some of the most common traits of leaders are:
All of these traits can be found in the examples of our founding fathers and in leaders we see in the headlines today. One can also argue that there can be a downside to some of these traits. When we are so assertive, so hard charging and driven to win our cause or our argument we can create an unintended consequence of turning people away. No leader has ever achieved a revolution by themselves. Every leader in our history — good or bad — has done so with a group of people who helped create the change. The best leaders bring people together and find common ground — they don’t break them down.
Revolutionary leadership doesn’t have to be headline making either. I believe some of the most impactful and dramatic changes being made today are happening at the ground level and often out of the news. One of the best examples I can think of is in my own community by my friend Mindi Vaughn. Mindi has overcome her own personal battle with addiction and is now a community leader supporting initiatives to fight addiction, help former incarcerated persons find gainful employment and end homelessness. You can learn more about Mindi’s story here. She’s come a long way even since this was filmed in 2018 and is now the manager of The Portico Café. To me, that’s revolutionary.
So I’m going to take a bold step here and make an appeal to all leaders reading this article. Let’s use our traits for good. Let’s get involved at the ground level volunteering and actively supporting causes we care deeply about. Let’s bring people together, and work together to solve the problems. Let’s listen to and engage the people whose column heights are opposite of ours. We need everyone to solve the big problems. Nobody can do it alone.
It begins with understanding ourselves and where we need support. I’d suggest you begin with taking stock of your own leadership traits. You can do so by completing the Omnia assessment, and we will provide you with a complimentary report.