What separates one from another, the adequate from the excellent, the admired from the endured?
I turned my thoughts to this following a question from a correspondent.
Actually, initially I didn’t really turn my thoughts to the question at all. I did however draft a response, a very long and wordy response listing every obvious point and elaborating expansively on each.
It could have been straight out of a text book, one used for a 12 week lecture series where volume of content is determined by the time that has to be filled.
I responded with a simple single line sentence “let me give it some thought so I can come back with something that is useful.
I decided there are only two features that underpin a Good Leader.
1. They have a Leadership Philosophy
I often challenged new or soon to be Leaders to articulate their Leadership Philosophy.
We often promote a well performing team member to a leadership position and set about developing their management ability. We rarely challenge their leadership ability.
A good leader needs to have their own, unique Leadership Philosophy and it needs to be authentically their own.
Having a Philosophy provides a platform against which they can measure all they do. It provides a “go to” point when times are difficult or when a key decision has to be made. The question they ask themselves is how it aligns with their personal philosophy?
Being consciously aligned with your Leadership Philosophy simplifies what can be challenges debates with colleagues because you have a platform to support you. It makes it easy.
Having a philosophy ensures you will always be consistent in all you do, as long as at all times you are true to your philosophy.
My final point is, if your claimed philosophy is to meet all KPI’s, you have drifted to a have a Management, not a Leadership mentality.
2. A Desire to Make a Difference
A good Leader will want to be a part of making a positive difference across all their areas of responsibility.
They will have a desire to be better and for each individual Team Member to be better than they each perceived.
They will measure progress at multiple levels, of which financial success is the outcome, not the goal – that is for Managers.
A good leader will take a broad view (not big picture) approach and promote the contribution each individual makes to the “difference that is being made”.
To make a difference, they will challenge the status quo, in accordance with their Philosophy.
A good leader will always empower others and delegate authority along with responsibility.
A Management trait is to only delegate responsibility.
A favourite saying of mine is “Responsibility without authority equals blame” and a Leader understands this.
In summary, my argument is that Good Leadership has two fundamental components from which all else flows.
And this was the basis of the second reply I sent to my correspondent.