I was asked to list just three qualities that I thought made a great leader. It’s interesting that if you asked me to list 6 or 7 or even 10 I could just reel them off. But when you limit it to just three, it does make you target in on what makes a great leader for you. I say for you because we probably all have different things we look for in a leader.
Now while there are a lot of qualities I admire such as courage, charm, consistency, boldness, confidence, and positivity to name just a few, there are some qualities that, for me are non-negotiable. If a leader lacks them, then I find it impossible to follow them, so by that reckoning that would make them the most important characteristics, because without them, you cannot be a leader.
Taking this approach, the three qualities that I believe are most important are:
I want to know that the leader is interested in the well-being of the team and will take care of them when things are not going well. I don’t want to work for a leader who has an all for one approach, which seems a common trait in many bad or unpopular leaders. I know one company who had to let 600 staff go, and they did it by cancelling their security passes and when hey couldn’t enter the building security brought them their belongings and a severance letter. What a horrible way to treat people, such a lack of dignity. I appreciate that it sometimes we have to let people go because the company is struggling and it’s the only way to survive, but this is no way to treat people, especially at such a difficult time.
I want to work for a leader who’s is going to do the right thing, each and every time. His integrity is my integrity, and I don’t want my integrity to damaged because of who I am working for. That doesn’t mean we don’t make difficult decisions, but that we do it with a clear conscience know we made the best choice, not just the right choice for us. Too often I have seen leaders take the easy option and do what was right for them, but not necessarily good for their teams or the organisations. Look at how many leaders make short terms decisions that boost their bonus checks but damage their companies in the long-term.
There are a couple of aspects of persistence that I look for. The first is that we need to hold the line when things are tough, we need to be able to grit our teeth and continue to push forward because bold goals are not easily achieved, and we need the resolve to not only keep ourselves going forward but also our teams. The other aspect of persistence is that related to people management. People management is not always easy, and often the simplest solution can be just to say “ok fire them and get me someone else”. The harder option is to find out what’s going wrong and to fix it. In my experience, people fail more often than not because they lack clarity into their role, or they lack the tools or the skills to do the work. We need to persist with people to get the best out of them; we can’t just be a manager a hire and fire type of manager, as we’re not fixing the underlying problem.
What three qualities would you want your leaders to have, please leave a comment letting me know?