Do you know a good leader when you see one?

My earlier post identified leadership as the good, the bad, and you. I wrote about six behaviors typical of bad leaders. While the opposite of my six observations of the bad are a place to start, there will be no getting off easy for me. Here are my top six qualities of good leaders.

You work hard to build trust and earn respect.

Sure, your team will trust you at the start, and your leadership role comes with some built-in respect. But strong leaders work continuously to prove themselves. At the beginning, in the middle, and throughout, your actions are your leadership. When a person you work with shares a confidence, you keep it. When a complaint comes in about someone on your team, you reserve judgment and talk directly to the person involved to learn more. You say what you mean, and you mean what you say. Yes, it’s just that simple.

You are who you are.
You should learn from, and be inspired by, the leaders you’ve observed. You should also be who you are because the strongest leaders are authentic and true to self. Take a tip from Judy Garland, “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”

You hire people who aren’t you.
Leaders build teams. When you hire someone new, avoid the stereotype; don’t hire people exactly like you. Instead, hire individuals that bring new points of view and different work styles. Your team can better respond to current challenges and more successfully evolve to meet what will come in the future when you have a powerful mosaic of perspectives and styles.

Your modify your approach as needed.

You are leading individuals. What works with one may not work at all with someone else. Getting to success will require you to modify your approach based on what you understand about the motivations of different types of people.

You roll up your sleeves and work shoulder to shoulder.

In the middle of the challenging times, you are in the mix with your team. During a crisis or when a lot of hard work is needed, you are visible and participating in whatever needs to be done.

You keep in mind that people are counting on you.
In a leadership role, you have more ability to influence the future and you know your job is to evaluate risks and identify opportunities. You are responsible for positioning your team to do important work that has value to your organization. After all, the individuals you lead are counting on you to protect their future livelihoods.

You celebrate successes!

Strong leaders understand the long-distance race and the mileposts along the way. You think long term, and you intentionally pause to call attention to goals achieved. Cheers and shared rewards for great work lead to team solidarity.

In my third post about leadership: we’ll talk about you, and your approach with the good and bad leaders in your life.

This post appeared originally on Start Smart Career Center, a virtual mentoring network that helps women navigate their nonprofit careers and thrive as leaders in the workplace.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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