Reflecting on the behaviours of the best people I have seen in leadership positions over my 35 years of playing in this area to a friend a while ago, it seemed to come down to a small number of discrete behavioural characteristics. I know there are libraries full of books on leadership, but this is the list that evolved during that conversation. Luckily, my friend was jotting a few notes for a workshop he was running the following week, and subsequently sent me the jottings.
Those characteristics were:
- They always take responsibility for their own actions, and those of the people who relay on them for direction. No finger pointing, excuses, and wasted energy playing “the game” ,
- The flip side, of the first is that they give credit where it is due, never taking the credit for themselves, even in situations where most would say that their leadership and decisions were the deciding factor .
- They do not let the status quo, sacred cows and the fear of change stop them. In fact these things offer opportunities to improve, and benefit by being first, different, and recognisable.
- People are not pushed into the background by technology. People run the technology, design it, implement, and use it, but so often the technology comes to be the king. Great leaders would never allow themselves to be distracted by a phone call when talking to someone who was relying on them, respect given is returned in spades.
- They are not imitators, they look for different paths, and follow them with passion. It may lead to a few more missteps, but it also opens the opportunity of seeing the emerging opportunities first. Being the same for the sake of some concern about being seen as different is of no importance to them.
- They know they are not always right, so are willing to be pulled up, corrected, and accept good council. You would never hear one say “I told you so”.
- They are collegiate, happily working with others, contributing their time and expertise in the way that best benefits the objectives being sought.
Finding ways to build these into your natural response mechanisms can only help you become a better leader, and coaching those with whom you work to be better themselves is in itself, the essence of leadership.