This is in response to a post on the Meneldor forums by Valthonis.
I am guessing since this is on the Lotro forum, you are asking in regards to a kinship, so this is how I will reply. Leadership means many things. However, in my opinion, there are many more things that it does not. One of the most important things that you cannot forget in leadership is your people. This is, after all, who you are "leading."
I am not trying to tarnish anyone's name, but I have run the gamut. I have seen guilds run by clueless %$$hats (which makes me wonder how clueless the members might be), and I have seen the guilds run by the complete pri*# who has no people skills whatsoever, but he gets the job done, perhaps because he is a great tactician, perhaps because he cracks the whip. Sometimes people will gravitate towards this type of person for their own selfish needs, whether that be because they believe this person will ultimately lead them to loot, or because being associated with them will boost their own self-esteem.
There are other types of leaders, as well. Those who actually strive to "lead" their people.
As to your question, I believe one of the most important factors is "being on the street level." While you have to be a leader, or move forward, and give an example, set rules, etc, this doesn't mean that you have to be a slave driver, or just plain condescending to people. Think about this. If your boss was continually calling you a noob, and acting like a complete conceited moron in public if you went to lunch, and continued to call you out, but not praise you, and treated you like a subject, how long would you work at this job? With this being a game, this should be that much more important.
"Being on the street level" simply means this: Identify with your people, and more importantly, BE one of your people. This does not mean that you cannot lead effectively, if you are a born leader, or have been trained with the skills, or will do your best to do so. I've seen too many guild leaders who don't even talk to their own people, or do runs with them, pvp, etc. This causes a divide, and most times will cause disdain and resentment. This is the kind of thing that will build up over time in a guild, and will eventually be a powder keg.
It is also important to remember to praise in public, and tell them what they might have done wrong in private. It does no one any good, except perhaps the ego of the agressor, to cut someone down to size in front of others, and it certainly does not make you look good in front of the kin.
Another important part of being a leader, is vision. You are a "leader." Where are you leading them? If you don't know, then it will only be a short time before it falls apart. The blind cannot lead the blind, as they say, and nor will people follow you any further than the brick wall at the end of a dark and rainy alleyway. And most times in that type of situation, you cannot turn around, when there are 40+ people in the alleyway, each with their own interperetation of what just happened. Know where you are going, and make that clear, and know that you can get there, and people will follow. But make it your number one priority to get your people there, not yourself. Just as you are there to lead your flock, in following you, they will carry you, and will do amazing things for you and the unit as a whole if you give them the right opportunities.
Consistency is also important. We all have this to varying degrees, and some of us are the rebels who try things others wouldn't or jump at opportunities sometimes others can't see. But it is extremely important to keep things leveled out for those who are following you. A good example is if you use a loot council. There must be some type of consistency, or people will lose faith in you and in the system. This also comes into play in treating each person fairly and on the same level. It is always hard not to play into favoritism for all of us, but as a leader, you must try to avoid this at all costs.
In doing this, you must use tact. If you cannot, you do not belong in a position of leadership. I could mention examples, but I do not want a flame war, only to answer your question. You must know how to deal with, talk to, love, hate, and most importantly repremand people in a way that they still respect you, the objective, reason and/or ultimatum are clear, and once again you have been consistent and fair. You must be as unbiased as possible, while at the same time be biased to the guild as a whole.
You must be dependable. This is something I lack at times. There are times when RL kicks in and I might not be on for a few days. However, this is where having stellar officers also comes into play. You must be able to at least give it 110% to provide the end result to the vision you have given to your people. Of course it takes them, as well, however being a leader is more work than any other job you can imagine. You have a flock, after all, and each one of those are an individual with their own individual attitudes, personalities, play-styles, and needs.
Momentum is also extremely important in some way or fashion, which brings initiative into play as well. If you lose your lust for the prize, so will your people, and they will lose their lust for you. Make your leadership about what you can do for your people and identify with them, not about loot and greed, and they will follow you to the gates of hell and lay down their lives for you, because you would do the same for them.
You also must be able to make decisions. If you cannot be decisive, you cannot be in a position of leadership, because this is what they are here for in the first place, to follow you! You have to have the guts to make the decisions when they need be made, and they are never easy. If you cannot handle the pressure, it's not an easy thing.
Also, the captain goes down with the ship. You must be prepared to take responsibility for your actions, the kin's actions, and much worse, the actions of those that you don't agree with who may have acted wrongly and wear your tag. You are the figurehead for the family, organization, how ever you want to look at it, and it is to you that others, even outside the circle will be looking.
Achievement can be important, but if you are a good leader, and are one of your own, this will not matter as much. If you treat a woman kindly, and she is the right kind of woman, she will not care what care you drive, what job you have, or the size of your member. Fill your kin with likewise people, and there is nothing that can stop you.
I could go on and on, but lastly, humility is also something that I believe is important. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your achievements, however, there is something very wrong with thinking that you are better than everyone else, especially on a server, and even more so in a game. There is always someone better than you, and I believe guild leaders should realize this more than most. When your people see you honestly being humble in some regards, they will then realize you are one of them, but with a vision and an edge, and they will follow you. Not because you are calling them names, berating them, or telling them that they aren't doing their best without cultivating them, but because they believe in you.