Great leaders change us for the better. They see potential in their team members the members may not necessarily see themselves. They challenge us, encourage us, and map out the way we can accomplish great results.
Most of us know a great leader when we experience one; yet sometimes it can be difficult to describe the specifics of what makes a great leader. I believe this is because there is no one way or magic formula to create a great leader. However, there are some common characteristics that great leaders share including a set of core beliefs they not only hold but live out every day for those of us who take notice.
What are some of those core beliefs? Consider the following:
- Growth Is Encouraged, Not Feared– Great leaders are on a growth path themselves and encourage those on their team to grow as well. They do not fear others on their team or within their inner circle who are smarter than them – they push for this. They don’t have to be, nor want to be the smartest person in the room. Great leaders look for opportunities for growth every day, regardless of the situation or circumstances.
- Team Members Are Individuals, Not Clones– Average leaders treat most people the same, incorrectly thinking everyone is motivated or challenged by the same small set of factors. Great leaders motivate, teach, recognize, and reward people based on what is best for the individual, not what is efficient for the leader. When delegating an assignment, great leaders take into account the natural skill level and the motivation level of the person and use this information to define the type of guidance and influence they provide.
- Team Members Are Equals, Not Subordinates– Average leaders (actually, poor leaders if I’m being honest here) believe in the saying “rank has its privileges” as evidenced by how they treat team members. But a great leader knows the best use of his or her time is to help team members break through obstacles, instead of waiting around for the team to serve them. Great leaders give the team credit for successes and take the blame personally for failures or less than expected results.
- Stupid Rules Are Overlooked, Not Demanded– Great leaders allow for flexibility in how things get done. They don’t accept everyone showing up by 8am or staying until 5pm as evidence of hard work. Great leaders focus on results, not effort. Great bosses encourage team members to challenge the status quo and discourage “we have always done it this way” attitudes. Great leaders believe in new ideas, new approaches, and new solutions. They also know not every approach will be successful and learn from mistakes, oversights, and failures.
- Motivation Comes From Within, Not Externally– Great bosses take the time to learn what is important and valued by each team member as an individual. Akin to point number 2 above, they don’t believe the same motivational factors will inspire everyone equally. So great leaders work at learning the unique and specific factors driving an individual’s behavior, interests, and goals and then appropriately leverage (not manipulate) this information to motivate individual team members to achieve outstanding results.
How do your beliefs stack up against this list? Give yourself a rating from 1-10 to develop some deeper awareness of your leadership style and potential.
The above list is by no means intended to be complete or necessarily authoritative. What other beliefs should be on this list? I’m interested in your thoughts.
PS. The above content had its foundation in an article written by Travis Bradberry and appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine in January 2017.