What makes a good leader? Just like what is the best leadership style? There is no magic formula nor is there a one-size-fits-all answer. Perhaps we should agree on what has been proven to result in a good leader? Some might believe that a good leader can be measured from a qualitative perspective, meaning that he or she has built a reputation of being a good boss! Personally I prefer -- and for the purpose of this article -- we should use a more measurable approach to define just what makes a good leader.
In the article What is a Leader I've defined it as "a credible person who can alters one's thought, feelings or actions in a manner that enlists others to pursue the accomplishment of a common goal." Thus, a good leader is someone that can sustain the enlistment of others in order to pursue a common goal.
At the onset you need to be opened-minded and willing to put in hard work! But if you're passionate about becoming a great leader, then it can be an enjoyable adventure. Becoming a good leader does not mean becoming perfect, it's more like understanding your imperfections and learning to work with them.
To be a good leader you need to have some understanding in three different spheres:
You need to understand just what the corporate objectives are. In other words, what is the organization producing and more importantly, what benefits will the product or services have for its customers. People prefer to have a global purpose; they would rather know that the actions they are performing each day will result in positive consequences.
That makes me think of a story I heard many years ago for which I don't remember the source. It was about a steel worker who found his job very un-motivating. Day after day, he loaded beams of steel onto trucks. Then one day, after another hard day, he listened to the space shuttle lunch on the news. Much to his surprise, it was mentioned that the steel used to build the space shuttle was coming from the steel plant that he was working in. Needless to say, he was quite happy to brag to everyone in the room that he was the one who loaded those beams of steel onto the truck to be delivered. If his superior would have taken a few minutes to explain what the steel was being used for, perhaps he would have changed his perception and would have been extremely proud of his efforts, as little as they were, in helping to build a space shuttle.
You need to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. And more importantly you need to have the desire to constantly improve upon them. Being open-minded and consistently seeking formal and informal feedback will do much to help you in your improvement efforts.
Understanding your predominant leadership style in urgent and stressful are the behaviors that are going to come to you naturally, without forethought. As a result, it is critical that you are familiar with these behaviors and that you understand why you are naturally inclined to act in such a way. Framing some new beliefs will help you alter them which would be appreciated by those who are under your management. A typical example is the first respondent; their training teaches them not to panic or act irresponsibly in an emergency situation. , This could very well result in not only jeopardizing the safety of them and others, this type of situation could result in tragedy. The same is true for a leader, when confronted with an urgent situation as simple as being asked a question for which we don't have the answer, It is most important that you don't panic. The proper response would be to simply explain that you do not know the answer, but will investigate further and explain that you will provide an answer once you had the opportunity further your understanding of the topic.
It is necessary that you have some understanding of human behavior and why people will act in a certain manner as opposed to responding in another way. In a context that fosters ethics and honesty, observation and active listening will provide you with all of the answers. Of course, some advance knowledge of human behaviour is essential for you to interpret the situation more accurately thus minimizing misunderstandings and consequently increasing your ability to make the appropriate decisions.
In short, what makes a good leader isn't so much a series of predefined core competencies, but more about a personal attitude that can be developed to guide you towards the missing competencies and help you on your leadership journey!
Leaders are constantly seeking to exchange their knowledge, because that's how we increase our leadership skills.
Click below to see contributions from other leaders to this page...
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