What Makes a Good Leader? These 4 Qualities

Text reading "what makes a good leader" over a photo of five young professionals of different races, all very attractive. two women and three men.

What makes a good leader? The title "leader" does not a leader make.

A leader is defined as:
1. a person or thing that leads.
2. a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.

During my 30-year career as a personal coach, trainer, speaker and consultant, I have had the rare privilege of working directly with leaders at all levels and in a wide variety of industries and disciplines.

This experience has opened my eyes to both those leaders who, having led with courage and discipline, have added significant value to all of those around them, and sadly, I have seen the leaders who meet only the literal dictionary definition: a leader in title only.

I have watched those whose very presence inspires others to bring magnificence to everything they do and then those who occupy the leader’s chair and yet portray few, if any, of the attributes that lead to outstanding results.

In every organization the buck must stop somewhere and eventually it will land squarely at the feet of the most senior person who will, and should rightfully so, be held accountable for all results produced by that organization.

I have long had a passion for biographies, particularly those of people who understand what makes a good leader.

What Makes a Good Leader

While each attribute certain traits to their success, there is definitely an overlap which suggests that certain traits are prerequisites for what makes a good leader.

1) Influence

Paramount among those is the ability to influence – not demand – exceptional performance by their immediate direct reports and, to in turn train those folks to do the same thus producing a ripple effect throughout the organization.

I have mentioned previously that the best definition of a great leader is the one who has the ability to cause those around them to willingly go along with their thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

The key word in that definition is willingly. Consistent with all the books on leadership and biographies I have read, is the explanation of how “willingly” is developed.

2) Likability

 

High up on the list of great traits is one known as likability - we tend to go along with people we like, to be supportive even when we disagree and to be very forgiving when they make mistakes.And likability is the by-product of showing you care. Great leaders do not talk of themselves but rather inquire of others.Influence

Great leaders model respect for all to follow, treat all as equals and, when delivering necessary corrections and reprimands, focus only on behaviours involved and never on the people themselves.

3) Trust

Ranking alongside likability is trust. Trust is absolutely the foundation upon which all relationships are built. And trust, once lost, can rarely be regained at the same level.

It’s interesting to note that so many of the definitions of leadership focus far more on the likability, trustworthiness and interpersonal relationship abilities rather than on intelligence and competence.

In other words, a leader’s ability to cause those around them to willingly go along with the thoughts, ideas and suggestions is valued far more than their ability to be good at their jobs.

On the flip side, poor leaders can single-handedly devastate an organization. A poor leader can unwind years, if not decades, of great results and can, literally overnight, create a culture that leaves employees disheartened, discouraged and, often, in search of employment elsewhere.

Born or Made?

The debate as to whether great leaders are born or whether they can be developed has raged for years. My own personal experience leads me to believe that while many have seemingly natural and inherent leadership skills, great leaders can be developed through a commitment to personal excellence and an unwavering desire to constant self-betterment.

I have witnessed first-hand the results of poor leadership. Be sure to tune in next week when I will share some of the devastating impacts and results when organizations choose to elevate a leader in title only.

And remember, you don’t need the title to be a leader

Till we read again.


P.S.
On Saturday, October 28th, I am conducting a 1-day workshop on the Habits of Permanent Weight Loss. This will be a high-energy informative day focusing intently on the mindset of losing weight and keeping it off. Participants will leave with a personalized, detail plan for success.

The workshop is restricted to 20 participants at a one-time introductory price of $190.00 plus GST. This price includes a private coaching session with me as well as a private session with a Registered Dietician.

To register, please visit www.strategicpathways.net/events


 

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