This weekend saw millions of people around the world celebrating the Lunar New Year. The 10th February marked the start of the Year of the Dragon – an auspicious sign representing strong leadership and authority.

In uncertain times, the need to unite people, inspire confidence and drive action is more important than ever. So, as we enter the year of the dragon, let’s look at the top 3 traits that define strong leadership.

Strong leaders make brave decisions

The ability to take bold and decisive action is without doubt one of the key characteristics of strong leadership.  It takes courage to make the tough call, as Liverpool Football Club Manager Jurgen Klopp remarked, “To be successful, you need to be brave, you need to make decisions, you need to feel responsibility.”  Strong leaders recognise the importance of self-reliance and having the courage of their convictions.

Strong leaders see the opportunity in every situation

Disney CEO, Bob Iger, wisely said, “No one wants to follow a pessimist. You can be sceptical, you can be realistic but you can’t be cynical.”   Strong leaders need to draw on their EQ to be optimistic.  This doesn’t mean wearing rose-coloured spectacles. It’s about being realistically optimistic and leading by example. After all, optimism is contagious. If you look beyond the horizon, seek out opportunities and embrace change, you will inspire your team to do the same and make the change more likely to happen.

Strong leaders believe in themselves

I’m a big believer that people buy people – if you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities you will be hard-pressed to convince others to believe in you. We are all plagued with self-doubt from time to time. Great leaders have the ability to silence this negative inner chatter by reminding themselves of their key skills and strengths. This doesn’t mean you have to fake it until you make it. It’s about having the confidence to be your authentic self. By embracing any imperfections and displaying vulnerability, you are more likely to build trust and respect with your team.

Courage, optimism and self-belief are unquestionably three of the key traits that define strong leadership. The ability to harness your EQ to develop these so-called “soft skills” is easier said than done. It takes hard-work, drive and commitment to be a strong leader. By embracing the Year of the Dragon and putting these skills in to practice on a daily basis, you will inspire and motivate those around you to go the extra mile.