Perhaps the part of leadership that makes it so tricky to master is that there is no one way to be a great leader. What works well for one leader is a miserable experience for others. Leadership is a patchwork of traits that you have to learn to adapt and blend in with your own unique personality. Our Great Leadership Series focuses on three leaders and the qualities that they have displayed that drives the results. We challenge you this month to pay attention to your own leadership traits and be prepared to ask yourself some tough questions on how your leadership skills need to change/develop based on the results you want to create.
There are many leaders and many of us have our favorites. Each of us could share what attributes resonate with us as to why those that are our favorites are great leaders. Though there may not be a tried and true "these are the attributes of all great leaders" list, three attributes seem to rise to the top with the leaders highlighted in this month's Great Leaders Series.
One - Great leaders know their core values. They know them and other areas of their life support their core values. Because their core values are important to them, they measure/track those things that impact and support their core values. Think of the Tony Hsieh of Zappos example. What are your core values? How obvious are your core values to others?
Two - Great leaders know their vision. G. Steven Wright said that, "You cannot truly understand the beginning of anything until you understand the end." Great leaders know the end, they understand it, they "see" it, they "feel" it, they "hear" it, they "taste" it, they "smell" it --- and they can communicate it to others so that their senses can begin to experience it as well; often years before anyone will truly see the vision come into fruition. What is your vision? Do your senses connect with it? Do others connect with it?
Three - Great leaders know how integrity impacts their leadership. Dictionary.com defines Integrity as - adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. That reference site also offers as the antonym: dishonesty. Honesty verses dishonesty seems to sum it up quite well. Great leaders are honest and often they are known for attributes of honesty - they tell the truth, admit mistakes and take responsibility for them, they do not take credit for things they did not do. Mark Twain once said, "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything." Living with integrity builds trust and when people trust a leader they will adhere to the core values the leader has and do amazing things to help realize the vision the leader has provided. In what ways does your desire to live with integrity get compromised? What can you do to ensure you are living with integrity?
These three things, core values, vision, and integrity, are certainly not an exhaustive list of qualities that great leaders exemplify but they certainly are qualities that great leaders do embody. Do you know your core values? Can you articulate them? What is your vision? Do others "get" it? Are you living a life of integrity? If not, why not and what do you need to do to get back to integrity? All great leaders are not household names though all households can have great leaders. In 2014 explore what you can do to be a great leader. Begin with these three attributes and see how your life and others are impacted!