By: Kevin Leahy, Executive Director CEDR and CCC SBDC
When we look at successful businesses, both locally and beyond, a common trait many businesses share are strong leadership at the top. What are some qualities that set a leader apart from being a manager?
Some leadership qualities are to “BE” the following: Courageous, Big Thinker, Change Master, Ethical, Persistent, yet realistic, Risk Taker, Positive and Hopeful, Morally Strong, A Decision Maker, and Committed.
It is also important to accept and use power wisely, and to have a sense of humor.
How would you rate yourself on these attributes of what a successful leader is?
A successful leader is someone who communicates well, surrounds themselves with like-minded people, forms one on one relationships, is a good listener, refuses to let others dictate how they should do things, is able to identify ones owns strengths and weaknesses, displays a high level of optimism and confidence, acknowledge the need to or for change, is patient, and one of the most important traits in my opinion is someone who is passionate about what they do.
The difficult thing here is to truly “look in the mirror” on these ten attributes, and not just say “of course I do”, but really drill down to get a reality check of perception vs. reality. A true self-analysis is important here, and should also include family, friends or peers that can be totally candid in giving feedback, both positive and negative, to the individual. Leave the ego at the door! And set a realistic game plan to target and address both the strongest and most challenging attributes, while working on the middle on a day in and day out basis.
Here are examples of multiple Leadership “Messages” to learn from:
- Leaders have a clear point of view
- Leaders are agents for organizational change
- Leaders are people who, lacking authority or if their authority is taken away, still achieve results
- Leaders continually grow through study and introspection
- Leaders focus on how to best use their time and expertise and the time and expertise of others
- Leaders spend 60-80% of their day focusing on the top 4-8 items in their work
- Leaders not only do things right, they do the right things right
- Leaders use strategic anticipation: they expect the best, but plan for the worst
- Leaders achieve excellence by investing time and energy if it makes the product, service or outcome noticeably better for their customers
- Leaders dare to be different, ask the right questions, search for the right answers and are willing to make mistakes
- Leaders realize that the less you know about a situation, the easier it is to make the wrong decision
- Leaders follow the adage “if it isn’t broken, make it better”
- Leaders create a sense of urgency and continually ask “what’s next?”
- Leaders constantly ask themselves and others what has been done to add value to the organization
- Leaders make the system conform to the people, not the reverse
- Leaders realize that performance is achieved through coaching, training and practice
- Leaders know that when values are clear, decision making is easy
- Leaders create leaders
Colin Powell has written thirteen rules of leadership that he has used in his extensive military service and career that is inspiring, yet practical:
It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning
Get mad and then get over it!
Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it
It can be done
Be careful whom you choose
Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision
You can’t make someone else’s decision. You shouldn’t allow someone else to make yours
Check the small things
Remain calm. Be kind
Have a vision. Be Demanding
Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers