Most of you already know that this past year, I left a phenomenally successful company that I founded 13 years ago.
When I left, my amazing employees gave me a send-off that I will never forget: each one sent in three words that they felt described me as a leader. Their complimentary words were heartwarming for me. I’m sharing this with you not to boast, but to show you how we don’t need to overanalyze things.
What do I mean by that? The best things are many times the simplest. Yes, there are articles, motivational speeches, webinars, trainings, podcasts, and books that tell you how to be a great leader. And they can be great sources of inspiration. But…a key question still remains:
What is the best way to find out if you are a leader?
Ask your team.
Manager or Leader: What’s the Difference?
They require different skills, talents and abilities. You may be both and hold all the attributes – or you may prefer one over the other.
A Manager is:
a person in charge of successfully carrying out the activities, business practices, and daily operations of the business in order to meet the businesses objectives. Managers need to plan, measure, monitor, coordinate, solve, hire, fire, and other crucial duties.
A Leader is:
I think Kevin Kruse, author and contributor to Forbes, summed leadership up best:
“Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal. “
Some highlights from Kruse:
- Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power
- Good leadership requires no mention of personality traits, attributes, or even a title; there are many styles, many paths, to effective leadership
- There is always a goal, not influence with no intended outcome
Exploring Key Attributes of a Great Leader
#1: Be Approachable
It creates a welcoming atmosphere. As founder and COO, my leadership traits set the tone for the entire culture of the company from the top down.
The process of exploring how you can become more approachable will be a worthwhile growth exercise in itself- for both you and each person on your Team.
Because you ask and care, you will discover a great deal. In doing this, you earn trust.
Each quality creates new thoughts and feelings in people. One quality may be the result of another one.
For example, being approachable as a leader creates a welcoming atmosphere and opens the opportunity for trust to exist.
#2 Have Acceptance and Compassion
We must be accepting leaders and exhibit compassion.
When you show acceptance of who they are as a person, the individuals in your organization appreciate how compassionate you are as a leader.
Maintaining boundaries and holding people accountable is also vital. But we must not let one’s behavior blur our compassionate response. When we see a person and their behaviors as one in the same, we disrupt our ability to genuinely care for them and see them from a place of humanity. This causes us to show up in ways where our own behaviors are no longer managerial or leader-like.
But when we can care for our employees as people AND hold boundaries and accountability for their behaviors, we get the ideal result of being able to show up as our caring selves – while also setting expectations, rules, and guidelines around their actions.
#3: Be Authentic and Genuine
Your authentic self and personality, your value systems, your priorities, and belief systems are what will define the culture of your organization and team.
Trust that, appreciate that. Be willing to question those that aren’t serving you or your team. It doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect – it means do NOT be fake.
Be the real you. Inconsistencies in your value system and in your priorities will quickly show in your decision-making and ultimately will diminish the value of the authentic culture that you are attempting to create.
#4 Be Passionate
Passion inspires people. This really ties directly to the definition of how a leader succeeds.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”
To be passionate, start with your WHY: Your company’s WHY is key to success.
When I am really in tune with my Why, my Passion, my Authentic Truth, there is a fire deep inside me that is burning toward that purpose, a fire that
nothing can extinguish.
Invest this time in yourself, know your passion and share it with your team.
Other Important Leadership Traits to Integrate
Encourage. Respect. Be loyal.
These traits allow people to feel Connection. Connection fosters a sense of belonging, encouragement, respect and loyalty.
What is connection?
“…the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Leaders need to be courageous, admirable, dedicated, competent and decisive. They also need courage, which is perhaps the ultimate attribute.
Leaders, Answer a Few Questions:
- In what ways can you implement these attributes in your life – and in your organization?
- How can you be your best at each of the attributes listed?
These are the significant questions we will continue to answer for ourselves as we move forward. I hope you can find new and interesting ways to become the best version of you. Become the leader you want to be!
“The great leaders are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know. The great leaders can’t do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them. Great leaders don’t see themselves as great; they see themselves as human.”
Need a fresh, unbiased perspective on how to be the best leader you can possibly be? Let’s chat! Schedule a time here for us to have an honest conversation.