For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by LEADERSHIP. I enjoy reading biographies about great leaders and the characteristics that make them successful. Also, I have kept a personal journal for the last 10 years of observations of behaviors that I have seen in outstanding and "not so" outstanding leadership. My readings and personal journal will be the foundations of a book that I have planned to complete within the next 5-10 years.
If I were to sort and categorize those characteristics and behaviors I believe that make successul leaders, there are several that would be a common theme across a high percentage of successful leaders. Here's a brief snapshot of the dimensions of successful leadership from my observations and readings:
- Integrity - #1 characteristic. Without this, a leader is not a leader because they have no followers. In my opinion, this is the cornerstone of outstanding leadership.
- Desire - Outstanding leaders have a strong and burning desire to be leaders and to succeed. Almost an obsession-like focus. Most people are looking for leaders, these people want and know they are leaders.
- Results Orientation - Leaders are in leadership roles primarily to make things happen through other people - get results. They are very goal oriented, planful, organized and focused when it comes to achieving challenging results.
- Focused on People - I have met and worked with many good leaders that talk the talk on people focus but don't show the behaviors. They may be 3s on a 5 point scale. The best leaders ( the 4.5s and 5s on a 5 points scale) deeply care about their team and each individual. Outstanding leaders take the approach that their team is their #1 customer and the #1 customer needs to be treated as such. They realize that nothing happens without their team and the development of their team is crucial to the success of the mission.
- Vision - Vision can be an "overused" word in leadership. I view vision as the ability to innovate and create the needs and plans for the future while the team is focused on the current mission. Without vision, the organization becomes stale and complacent. Complacency is a tragic flaw in leadership. Outstanding leaders have the "pedal to the metal" 95% of the time, if not a 100%.
- For my sixth and final dimension, I will select passion. The "cream of the crop" leaders have a burning within them about their expertise, people and business. They gather as much knowledge as they can about their business on a daily basis. They enjoy what they do and thrive on teaching their team and others. Their work ethic is second to none because they are so passionate about what they do. Outstanding leaders can get others "fired up" about their business because they can transfer their passion to the audience.
I realize that I have not mentioned dozens of characteristics and behaviors such as communication, interpersonal, social, technical and financial/business skills. This list is my top 6 and ones I have observed in my career.
I would love to hear your comments on this list and other views of leadership. That's what makes leadership such a great topic - we could discuss and debate for hours. If you are ever interested in doing that, give me a call I'd love to participate.
Until next time, Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will...