Whether you’re teaching a class or running your own business, leadership is a valuable trait. Leaders possess the ability to get things done, with the help of others, even if they are not in a position of authority. How do leaders become leaders? What makes people want to follow them? Leaders pull their strength from the force of their character.

Integrity: Leaders earn trust by displaying integrity. That means living honesty and with strong moral principles, acting fairly. It also means holding yourself accountable: admitting to your mistakes and keeping whatever promises you make.

Personality: As a leader, you want the people working for you to feel personal loyalty to you. And that requires you to have a personal relationship to them. Obviously, if you run a big company or occupy a government position in a large municipality, you won’t be able to get to know your constituents on an individual basis. But you can still take steps to seem available. Learn to listen to complaints and concerns, and prove that you are willing to address them. Be open about yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to open your entire personal life up to scrutiny–in fact, you probably shouldn’t. But you do want your followers to realize that you are a person.

Self-awareness: Leaders are defined by themselves, not their environment. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and trusting in yourself, you will be able to maintain a strong presence even when dealing with criticism or failure.

Flexibility: As a leader, you need to have a clear plan for the future. But good leaders know that these plans are not set in stone. Leaders need to be able to change their plans in response to any setbacks they encounter. Furthermore, leaders should be flexible enough to embrace good ideas even if they go against the plan.

Humility: A lot of people believe that being a leader means presenting an air of infallibility, never showing weakness. But this tactic can backfire in the long run, because it will make it much harder to bounce back when you’re ultimately proved to be fallible. So admit freely that you don’t know everything, and apologize freely when you make a mistake. Rather than weakening you, your ability to face your weaknesses will likely earn you respect.