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I discovered at a young age that one of the most difficult assignments is being entrusted with a leadership position. As a Robotic Engineer for Martin Marietta Energy System in Oak Ridge, I was thrust into the role of managing a group of engineers and technicians. It was my responsibility to lead my team in engineering innovative ways to repair highly sophisticated mechanical equipment.

I learned early on that if the team was going to be successful in its mission, I had to be a good listener. One who listen to ideas, concerns, and opinions coupled with compassion and care. I knew that I needed the team just as much as they needed a leader who listened, because when you are under pressure to accomplish an objective, you can fail to hear what’s being communicated, and the results can be catastrophic.

As the team moved forward with our mission, the skill of listening that I had previously used as a minister, counselor and advocate, were the keys to our success. In the end, we received many accolades and filed for several patents.

In my opinion, good leaders have the following leadership qualities. It is important to note that these leadership traits are effective in business and life:

  1. In order to lead people, you first must understand them. You must have insight into the human heart. Sensitivity toward the hopes and dreams of people is essential for connecting with people and motivating them.
  2. Listening can keep problems from escalating. Good leaders are attentive to small issues. They pay attention to their intuition. Not only do they listen to what’s being said, they also hear what’s not being said. They are secure enough to ask for honest feedback and not become defensive when they receive it.
  3. Listening establishes trust. Dr. David Burns, Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said, “The biggest mistake you can make in trying to talk convincingly, is to put your highest priority in expressing your own ideas and feelings. What people really want is to be listened to, respected, and understood. The moment they are, they become more motivated to understand your point of view.”

In affordable housing, these three leadership qualities are paramount in being a successful leader.

So, never give up! Never give up! Never give up!

Chaplain Walter Ghosten

By Chaplain Ghosten