What Is Good Leadership?
“A lump stuck in his throat as he proudly watched the team step up onto the podium to cheers and emotional celebration for their best ever winning performance.”
Good leadership is a culmination of a lifetime of learning and developing news skills in dealing with and unlocking the full potential of the people around you. Good leaders are judged by 3 key factors:
- Their results
- Their humanity
- And their legacy.
In his book entitled The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership, Daniel Goleman offers the sub-heading:
Transforming The Art of Leadership Into The Science of Results.
Leaders who resonant with their teams do so because they create a high value, high performance culture where teams are energised to deliver outstanding levels of performance. People want to be on ‘the winning team’ and a good leader will create an environment that seeks excellence; challenges under-performance; stretches good performance and delivers sustainable and continuous improvement in team attitude, activity and action.
Good leadership contains a competitive streak – everyone on the team knows this – great leaders ask themselves the question ‘if two thirds of my team had their best year yet, what would that do for the organisation and for overall team morale?’ In creating such a culture a good leader will then cheer on his team and sit back to let them take the glory and the praise, as he, or she plots their next adventure.
Being an effective leader is not a title you can give yourself. No. It’s other people who judge whether you are seen as a good leader or not. Good leaders are not alone. They acknowledge the position they have reached (in the case of career progression) is as a result of learning from colleagues, peers and superiors and applying that learning in their day to day dealings with people.
As a leader you will therefore have developed a myriad of leadership traits, which make up your leadership DNA.
Some of these leadership traits emulate from other leaders you respect; some from reading or attending leadership training programmes; and some you have gathered yourself, because they worked for you at one time, or you just want to test them out.
As a good leader your emotions are contagious.
You are continually seeking to influence, but you too are being influenced. And that’s a very good thing, because to be a successful leader you have to be able to LISTEN.
You have to be able to ask the right questions and listen to the people around you.
This is the basis upon which you improve your decision making capability and confidence, and thereby earn the respect of those around you.
Most people complain that poor leaders simply don’t communicate well enough.
In addition to active and regular listening, good leadership is the demonstration of good communication skills through the five E’s:
- ENGAGING: in dialogue and debate where honest feedback is sought without blame or coercion.
- EMPATHY: good leaders win hearts and minds. People then want to be on your side.
- ENERGY: setting the tone with positive energy, inspiring your team to achieve things they never thought possible.
- ENTHUSIASM: displaying vision and passion.
- EDGE: being sharp, focused and on top of your game, so that when the time is right to challenge you ‘hit the nail on the head’.
Ultimately when it comes to answering the question:
What is good leadership?
It is about creating a climate where the truth is heard, whether it’s good or bad news. In the case of the former, good leaders are humble and quick to give lavish praise and approbation. With the latter, they are not afraid to ‘confront the brutal facts’. In addition, there’s a huge difference between creating an opportunity for people to ‘have their say’ and having the opportunity to be heard. Good leaders understand this distinction, creating a culture wherein people have a tremendous opportunity to be heard and, consequently, for the truth to be heard.
Good leadership is evidenced when the leader leaves behind a long term sustainable legacy.
You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit. Harry S Truman.
Jim Collins in his book entitled Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, describes this type of leadership as ‘level 5 leadership – a leader who builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will’. He describes the leadership traits of eleven remarkable CEO’s who led transformation in eleven of the Fortune 500 Companies in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.
These leaders were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results. They were not egotistical. They didn’t want fame, fortune or the limelight. They would happily sit back and watch their teams step up onto the podium of success and take none of the credit.
They shared two primary objectives.
- Put the organisation first by creating a long term sustainable future.
- Develop a team of extra-ordinary leaders who would become great successors and adopt these two primary objectives themselves.
Some leaders create followers – good leaders develop good leaders.
The best legacy any leader can leave behind, like a great teacher, is to channel their energy into setting up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
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