When I ask others what they think a leader is, they have lots of different responses. However, there is one that always inspires me: “A leader is someone I can believe in”. When we believe in a leader, it shows they are doing something – or a lot of “somethings” – right.
What behaviors do they exhibit that cause us to believe? Here are a few I’ve heard:
Count on them to do what they say they will. If anyone else has gone before them and done it, they know can do it. They may even be able to forge new paths, and do something nobody before them has done. No matter what, they will do it, and we can count on them.
Accept others. They see themselves as equal to those they lead, without the trappings of power that they could bring to their leadership. They recognize the humanity in those they lead, and are willing to accept them and work with them as they are.
Build others up. They see possibility in others, even when they make mistakes. They are willing to forgive those transgressions and look beyond what happened to seeing what can be. They make us aware of our strengths and help us to feel confident.
Trust others to get it done. They have clear lines of authority and trust others to get the things done that have been mutually agreed upon. They don’t micromanage, but they do hold us accountable.
Work hard at getting even better. Even if they have received accolades, are told that they are “the best of the best” and have had great success, they know their weaknesses. Even when they work hard at eliminating them, they know there is always more work to do to become a better person and a better leader. They demonstrate continuous learning and development with humility.
Give their all for the greater good. They believe in what they do, and they work hard at it, sometimes giving themselves up in the process (that’s for discussion at another time). They are able to go beyond what they see now in order to see what’s best – for their organization, and for what lies beyond it.
Take risks others are unwilling to take. When something isn’t right, or when something just needs to be said – they are the ones to say it. If something needs to be done, they are the ones to do it when all odds are against them.
Take the right action. They reflect and then take the action they believe is best. They’ve learned that action for action’s sake is not productive. So they slow down to think, invite others to think with them, and then take action.
Attend to accomplishing objectives AND building and sustaining relationships. They know that leadership is not an “either/or” proposition. They must accomplish stated objectives as well as work to build and sustain the relationships that will help them.
What helps you to believe in the great leaders in your life?