Where’s the Leadership In That?

Amazed is a word that is not strong enough to describe the feelings I get when I witness the tragic things that happen when there’s a void in leadership.

Whether you’re an owner, a supervisor or on a board of directors, by all means exercise your leadership abilities. If you are among those who are challenged with those abilities, then take a class!

Let’s look at the characteristics of an ideal leader.

  • a good listener
  • shows enthusiasm
  • demonstrates passion
  • shows appreciation
  • a visionary
  • a role model
  • trusting
  • acts with integrity
  • organized
  • knowledgeable
  • builds credibility
  • persuasive
  • charismatic
  • team builder
  • has clarity of purpose
  • a problem solver
  • an attitude of service
  • leads by example
  • patient
  • willing to act without complete knowledge
  • understands followers
  • consistent
  • empowers other people
  • adapts to change

When I ask my clients what the characteristics of a good leader are, their answers include the same items and from this comes some useful insights.

teamwork1)Notice what the list contains. All of these characteristics relate to the human side of leadership. That’s interesting because many people minimize this side of leadership with terms like “soft” or “touchy feely.” Actually, applying these characteristics requires more strength than not.

2) Notice what the list excludes. Absent from this listing are characteristics such as stern, mean, serious, short tempered, vindictive, tough, angry, harsh, punitive, controlling, violent, or ruthless. And that’s interesting because many popular representations of leadership emphasize at least one of these “hard” characteristics. In fact, these characteristics are the refuge of those who lack the strength (or the skills) to apply the human side of leadership.

3) How about you? How would you rate yourself as a leader compared to the list of positive characteristics? If you were to survey the people who report to you, how would they describe your leadership? Would they list characteristics from the “soft” list or from the “hard” list? Could you become more effective by improving upon any of the “soft” characteristics? And how about the other leaders in your organization? Do they truly maximize human potential?

People want leaders who treat them with genuine compassion, courtesy, and respect. They want leaders who help them become more successful. They want leaders who inspire them with a vision for a better world and show them how to go there. They want leaders who shoot straight. They don’t want leaders who avoid the possible confrontation, avoid giving the feedback, avoid doing the sometimes tough things that need to be done.

I challenge you to make 2014 the year to set a goal to grow your leadership skills and become a better leader.

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