Let's put our cards on the table right at the top of this blog: I'm not interested in leaders who bully, who lead through terror or tyranny, who belittle, intimidate and humiliate.
There are tons of those around and not just on the world stage where their dictatorship-style leading is on view for all to see, but in offices all over the world as well. Old fashioned leadership driven by patriarchal, critical and threatening behaviour.
I remember a company where I ran a series of courses and inevitably on each course someone would mention this one senior manager who sounded appalling; we were even told he whacked people on the back of the head if he was displeased or angry.
Eventually, I worked with the senior team and although this man did have a charming streak, he was exactly as described and I was astonished that a company as supposedly forward-thinking as they purported to be, kept someone like that in a leadership position.
To the relief of just about everyone in the company, two months after we had worked with nearly everyone in the firm, he was put out to pasture. His behaviour, attitude and beliefs were so well-entrenched that unless he had had some form of mystical intervention, he simply wasn't going to change and the very things the company was telling its employees about respect and honouring colleagues would have been pure lip-service.
This was a good example of a company needing to align its leadership behaviours with its values.
Our take on what makes a good leader is about qualities which develop both the leader and the people around him or her.
Make sure you lead with humility. This is the ability to admit mistakes, the ability to ask for support, the willingness to show vulnerability and acknowledge that even though you may be in a position of leadership, you are on a 'journey' as well.
Have a vision. Any vision will do. It doesn't have to be 'high falutin' or grand or designed to change the world. It does have to be something that other people will be willing to support and get behind.
Be clear. Be clear in what is possible; be clear in what you expect of others.
See it from the other person's point of view. Our personal favourite quality and one that we include on a huge variety of our courses. I've written about it many times and will continue to because if you can see where other people are coming from your leadership can literally be transformed.
Forgive other people's mistakes. You make mistakes, other people make mistakes. There really is absolutely no point crying over spilt milk. Get to the bottom of why stuff has gone wrong and at the same time help your people get over their upset and distress.
Move things along. We all get stuck every once in a while. Getting unstuck is another key to great leadership; finding ways to get things going again.
Which leads us to ask for support (which I mentioned before). You don't have to find ways to get things going again all on your own. Ask those you lead for their ideas and input; ask other colleagues, talk to friends and family. When people 'go it alone' they generally appear aloof, unapproachable and distant.
Being a great leader means you are approachable, open-minded and accessible.
Everyone can develop great leadership qualities - qualities reflect behaviour and your people will respond if you lead from a place of openness rather than having a 'keep away' sign around your neck.
By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory