When you build a house, you know what to do and how because of the blueprint. It’s an odd thing to say because it’s obvious – you just wouldn’t run in blind. This guide is what tells you how to build your house. What’s more, it shows you the house finished.
But wait, you cry, I’m here because I care about leadership! I’m no architect… or are you?
Recently, a zoom call of leaders from various industries contributed to the characteristics and values they considered to be essential for an ideal leader. Here’s what they came up with:
- A good listener
- shows appreciation
- a visionary
- role model
- team building
- clarity of purpose
- problem solver
- an attitude of service
- leads by example
- willing to act without complete knowledge
- understands followers
- empowers other people
- and adapts to change.
It’s worth noting that this zoom call hasn’t reinvented the wheel – this list features pretty standard terms. It’s a similar list to those found in core values sessions we do in leadership coaching and brand coaching.
- Pay attention to the list. Each represents core values more than administrative qualities. It’s a crucial element as users often try to divorce the “touchy-feely” or “woo-woo” aspects of leadership.
- In turn, pay attention to what’s absent from the list – especially those considered part of “old school” leadership. Characteristics thought to be strengths in times past, are not seen the same way by the staff members who would use terms like stern, mean, serious, short-tempered, vindictive, tough, angry, harsh, punitive, controlling, violent, or ruthless. None of these is present in the list. These features are merely symptoms of leaders who lack the strength or capabilities to meet the human level of leadership.
- Now pay attention to your relationship with the list. Can you go through and place a rating by those you feel you meet? Better yet – click here to take a quick skills assessment based on this list. Then, reconsider how those you lead would rate you. Does it measure up? (a strong leader frequently seeks feedback and invites opinions from his team, have them complete this assessment and see how you measure up). Finally, how would other leaders rate these abilities of yours? The human elements of leadership are those most valued as with those skills you can increase the potential and performance in your domain.
Respect, genuine compassion, and courtesy; these are often the core values of leadership. Followers need to feel valued, cared for, and respected – not out of some soft hand-holding coddled intergenerational babying, but simple human decency. If you want them to perform for you – respect them as individuals with a skillset and work ethic which benefits you as a leader. When they’re going through a tough time or experiencing changes in life, don’t shut the door on them because it’s not work-related; recognise that as individuals, you need to validate the whole human experience. Finally, the fact that courtesy has to go on any list discussing leadership is disappointing – but in our careers, who hasn’t come across someone who thinks that “tough love” and “get on or get gone” are effective leadership styles?
Human assets are humans first.