What I know about being a good leader

What I know about being a good leader

I’ve been thinking a lot about the qualities of a good leader lately. Maybe I’ve been thinking about this because with last week’s GOP debate, we’re officially into the presidential election season, and our country’s most visible leader is the president. Maybe I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve been interviewing a lot lately. Maybe I’ve been thinking about it because my last post “8 tips for handling adult temper tantrums” is related to the issue. Whatever the reason, good leadership has been on my mind.

I’ve been fortunate in my life to having worked and volunteered with some wonderful examples of good and less-than-good leaders. Because I believe that leaders are made and not born, I also believe that most of us have the potential to be good leaders. I’m not saying we’re all going to be the President of the United States, but I believe that within our sphere of influence we can all be leaders.

To me, being a good leader and possessing leadership skills are less about being “the one in charge” and more about a mindset. In fact, I’ve known many people who were phenomenal leaders yet lacked the official title of president or boss, etc.

Here’s what I believe makes a great leader:

  • Leaders build up their teams
  • Leaders look for ways to help others grow and to be their best
  • Leaders possess emotional intelligence and use it in dealing with others and making decisions
  • Leaders are humble
  • Leaders shut down idle gossip
  • Leaders see the big picture
  • Leaders know when to step back
  • Leaders act with integrity
  • Leaders lead by example; they walk their talk
  • Leaders know when to follow
  • Leaders serve their constituents and their team
  • Leaders act with the focus of “what’s best for the organization?”
  • Leaders listen
  • Leaders know when to seek outside counsel and when to follow the advice
  • Leaders know their “why” and live it through all of their decisions and actions
  • Leaders build relationships
  • Leaders show gratitude and recognize the achievements of others
  • Leaders are solution oriented
  • Leaders take risks
  • Leaders take responsibility
  • Leaders know that failure is part of the path to success and they willingly embrace it
  • Leaders are constantly learning and are naturally curious
  • Leaders do the right thing
  • Leaders understand that the journey is as least as important as the destination
  • Leaders inspire
  • Leaders have tough conversations in a compassionate way
  • Leaders make decisions
  • Leaders are proactive, not reactive
  • Leaders give credit where credit is due

Leaders don’t:

  • act in a bossy manner (leader and bossy are not synonymous)
  • gossip
  • throw teammates under the bus
  • act as though they are entitled
  • believe “no one can do this except for me”
  • spread lies
  • focus on “me”
  • make secret promises to gain favor
  • stifle conversation, debate, or input
  • work to subvert the organizational structure processes
  • feel threatened by ideas of other people
  • get stuck in “we’ve always done it that way” thinking
  • feel insecure and threatened
  • complain but refuse to take action or look for solutions
  • place blame
  • believe they know everything
  • equate popularity with good leadership
  • lead through fear and intimidation
  • act passive-aggressively
  • jump to conclusions

Because I think leadership skills are so important, I follow a number of thought leaders on Twitter and do a lot of reading about being a good leader. These are some of my favorite leadership sources:

What do you think makes a good leader?

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    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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