Characteristics of a Good Leader
It’s interesting to hear the responses from executives when I ask them, “What are the characteristics of a good Leader?”
If I ask that question in a large room of executives, or even upper level managers the answers will be all over the map, and many are conflicting.
A couple of the usual answers are:
• A leader is someone that empowers those working for him to make their own decisions.
• A leader is someone who gives clear, direct orders, a take charge person that commands his employees.
The first implies that we let the employees make up their own minds what to do, and how to get the end result. The second implies that we’d better be somewhat of a micromanager and tell everyone exactly what to do and how to do it.
Aren’t those somewhat conflicting?
After we have built a huge list, and almost always the RIGHT answer isn’t there, I’ll point out to them they have put several conflicting statements up there.
So, “If you had to narrow it down to just one thing that defines a really good leader, what would it be?”
Out of all the years I’ve asked that question of executives, I believe only one time has someone even come close to the answer. The answer is “A leader gets results.” I believe that the reason there were so many conflicting characteristics is that most of what we put up there was “situational.” A good leader always knows when to use whatever tool according to the situation to get the results that are needed.
Too many are stuck in one mode or the other because “that is the right way to do it,” such as “empowering” employees. I’ll admit that is usually the best way, but there are employees that need a nudge once in a while, that perform well when given step-by-step directions instead of guidelines.
Too many are focused on activities, and then get frustrated because they don’t get results.
A good leader knows how to find the right tool, when to use it, and always delivers results.