Three Characteristics of Great Leaders

“Leadership”. Few topics have so many experts offering so much advice with so little actual impact!

It would take years to read all of the books on leadership currently on the shelves of your local Barnes and Noble. And yet, the lack of effective leadership continues to mire far too many organizations in the tar pit of mediocrity.

Yesterday, I engaged in a thought-provoking conversation with one of my authentic role models on the type of leadership required to create a dynamic and satisfying environment in which team members find a high-degree of job satisfaction and, as a result, perform at their highest levels. The insights I gained from this thought-provoking conversation are worth sharing.

  • Great leaders are not afraid to make themselves vulnerable.
    This is so counter-intuitive to our normal human inclinations. We tend to protect, conceal, and hide our shortcomings and limitations. We are afraid that if anyone knows we have a weakness, they will not respect us, they will not trust us, they will not like us, and they will not follow us. In reality, just the opposite is true. When a leader finally develops the courage to acknowledge their shortcomings, no one who works with them is surprised — they already could see the shortcomings and knew that the leader was hiding from those shortcomings! Vulnerability demonstrates strength (not weakness) and builds trust (not doubt). Leadership built on a foundation of anything other than trust is doomed to fail.
  • Great leaders are confidence builders.
    After a leader has earned the trust of their team, the leader must make the team trust and believe in itself (both individually and collectively). Achieving great things can only be achieved once your team truly believes they are capable of achieving great things. The greatest obstacle is not a lack of training, know how, education, money, staffing, or political support — it is a lack of confidence that the vision is achievable. Great leaders know how to build the confidence of their team that they can accomplish amazing things.
  • Great leaders are dream enablers.
    The vast majority of your team members are motivated first and foremost by the desire to know they are making a difference in what they do. I absolutely love the description of the leader as a dream enabler. Few things are as exciting and satisfying as leading a team as they translate their individual and collective dreams and visions into a reality that makes a huge difference in the world. A leader who can align organizational goals that make a difference with the dreams of their team members will have captured lightening in a bottle… and amazing things will happen.

Build trust with your team by being strong enough to make yourself vulnerable; build confidence in your team that they are capable of achieving great things; and enable your team to make their dreams and visions a reality, and you will leave a lasting legacy as a great leader!

Ron Holifield

Written by:
Ron Holifield
CEO, Strategic Government Resources

3 responses

  1. 1) Leaders willingly “show their shortcomings” because they do not value or prioritize themselves; they prioritize goals that contribute. As Collins said, “Personally humble, accomplishment ambitious”.
    2) Leaders are confidence builders because their total focus is on accomplishing honorable goals. Therefore, anyone who works with them finds themselves succeeding at honorable projects, thereby boosting their own sense of confidence and self-worth.
    The “lack of effective leadership” paradox is due to the disconnect between “true leaders” who passionately prioritize their honorable goals and are often perceived not as leaders but as strange outcasts (Jesus, Socrates, Beethoven, Disney, etc.) while those who successfully rise to “positions of leadership” are attracted to desiring and acquiring these positions in hopes of overcoming their deep insecurities with self-focused status, power, fame and/or money.
    David Childs

    1. Thanks for your additional notes about this post, David! It’s always great to hear from you, and your points are dead-on!

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