What makes an ever better leader?

What makes an ever better leader?

I love lists. They help me both to remember and to understand things better. That is why I often write down and compile ideas I come up with while reading, watching and thinking. In this particular list, that is based on my experiences, I picked up seven important characteristics any leader should have:

1. Passion

Every great man recognizes his passion, purpose, calling. I am not able to know your motives, but you should be aware of what motivates you, what makes you feel like you have a purpose. What is your passion? Focus on that and let nothing stop you. Surely there can be times when you need to do something else for a while, but get back to your passion as soon as possible. Passion is the single most important trait a great leader should have.

”Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
– Confucius
2. Be the real you

We don’t need to be perfect. But it is wise to be ourselves. That ensures personal growth on something solid. Unless somebody happens to be a jerk. Then he or she should try to evolve. See, being candid but respectful is totally OK, but being candid and rude is never the choice of a great leader.

”Be yourself. People would rather follow a leader who is
always real than one who is always right.”
– Craig Groeschel
3. Be helpful and kind

In case you need some convincing on ”why” here are two reasons to start with:

  1. You will feel good. Majority of us are hardwired so that helping other people will give us a sense of purpose and belonging. As a tribal species, that has just been the winning concept while working together with the members of your tribe.
  2. And nobody gets through this life playing solo.

”Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
– Michael Jordan

4. Be able to trust

For a leader it is just essential to be able to trust people: the more you are able to delegate and trust, the bigger the results can be. Trust also has a tendency to create proactive and committed people who are always many times more valuable than just reactive drone men.

There is also a study made by Google, where they studied teamwork and found out that the most important single factor in a good team is psychological safety, in other words: trust. People will need to feel secure in failing to be able to try their best.

”Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
– Steve Jobs
5. BE ABLE TO MAKE DECISIONS

To my experience one thing that employees think is particularly important for a leader, is his or her ability to make decisions when things get tricky. Also there is no need for ”a leader” who is not able to come up with a solid vision, communicate it to people and make necessary decisions to advance it. Quite often it is the role of a leader to make the hard choices: who or what to keep, what to invest in.

”Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail.” – John C. Maxwell
Word of advice: being a decision maker doesn’t mean that you need to micromanage. As previously said, trust generates proactive people who are super valuable for any business – but if you end up deciding everything people stop thinking themselves and turn into mere drones.
6. BE HUNGRY for growth

Wise leaders understand that business needs to grow and get better or it will sooner or later start to diminish. But pay attention: it is not growth for the sake of growth or greed. It is to expand your organization’s talent, your own skills and resources to follow your calling, to help the client and consumer, and to make the world a better place. Studies show that economical growth makes people more altruistic I.e. people are more able to focus on good things.

To be able to track and follow growth you need to be interested in charts, statistics and reports. Track even your personal growth. Set tangible goals. Make a road-map to yourself.

”Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not.”
– John C. Maxwell
7. Pursuit of Excellence

Good leaders are never ready. The better you get, the better you understand that there is so much to learn that we can never be perfect when it comes to business. Most likely great leaders study daily, read a lot of books, spend time discussing their ideas, and are ready to use much of their time to become ever better. When you are doing the thing that is your passion, you just keep doing it no matter what.

”Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
– Albert Einstein

I would love to hear your thoughts either here in comments or in Twitter. Or if you just agree, please share this post in Twitter or LinkedIn. Thanks!

The list was originally inspired by John C. Maxwell’s awesome book “5 Levels of Leadership”.

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