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How Do You Compare With Great Leaders?

How Do You Compare With Great Leaders?

In our last article, we talked about Vision being the one characteristic most often associated with great leadership.  One definition of leadership is the ability to turn a dream or vision of a desired future into a reality – with and through the cooperation of other people.

The list below contains three more critical qualities of great leaders.  There are a few suggestions of how to develop these qualities in yourself or in others.  To turn this into an interactive exercise, rate yourself on these qualities 1-10, 10 being the highest.  Then take this list to five of your closest associates and ask them to honestly rate your skill level.  Be sure to discuss any gaps in your scores, being open and gracious to the feedback you’ve asked for.

1) Integrity – If you ask people what integrity means, the majority will reply, “Honesty.”  While honesty is a component of integrity; it goes beyond just being truthful.  This quality embodies the phrase “ethical leadership.”  It is the willingness to conduct yourself honestly and ethically at all times.  It requires a distaste for any dealings that are underhanded, shady or even win/lose type scenarios.  A leader with integrity will not touch dishonest dollars nor profit from an unfair advantage.

I once heard a man say that he evaluates everything in his business by the simple standard “would I want my wife and kids knowing I’m doing this?” It seems some characters in recent scandals (Spitzer comes to mind) failed to evaluate their behavior against such a standard.  Whoever you use as your Jiminy Cricket, your kids, parents, God, it’s a beneficial question to keep in mind.

How can you develop this quality of Integrity?

A. When about to engage in something you think may be questionable, ask yourself, “Would I be comfortable with this course of action being publicized?” Enron officers failed to ask themselves this simple question.

B. Stand up for what you believe in.  If you are asked to engage in something you believe is unethical, “blow the whistle.”

C. Work on your own self-esteem.  Confident people are more comfortable standing up for what they know is right.

“I have learned that integrity is the steadfast refusal to do anything I will dislike myself for having done.”

“Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy.” ~ General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

2) Self Confidence – Self-confidence is necessary to inspire others to follow your lead. You must believe in yourself and your abilities to be a great leader.  This quality allows leaders to act in the face of disagreement.  Coincidentally, confidence also makes leaders more open to hearing others’ point of view.

How can you develop this quality of Self-Confidence?

A. Build yourself up.  Practice positive self-talk and remind yourself of your strengths, successes and potential.

B. Face your greatest fear.  Fear can be healthy and a great confidence builder when overcome.  If you’re waiting for the fear to go away completely before you try something – you’ll be waiting forever. Great leaders “act in spite of fear”.

C. Ask others for a list of your unique strengths and qualities.  Don’t limit them.

“The qualities that people look for most in leaders are not infallibility or infinite knowledge but confidence in themselves and in their group’s collective ability to find a solution.” ~ Jerry Colonna, cofounder Flatiron Partners

“Leadership is a delicate blend of self-confidence and humility.” ~ Harry Kraemer, CEO of Baxter International

3) Interpersonal Skills – Daniel Goleman in “Emotional Intelligence” stated that interpersonal skills are more critical to success than intelligence.  Great leaders must have a rapport with a wide range of people at varying levels of the organization.  This ability to communicate effectively with others begins with an awareness of oneself.  Recognizing how others respond to you and adapting yourself accordingly is another trait of respected leaders.

How can you improve your Interpersonal Skills?

A. Ask others for feedback on your behavior.  Are you too aggressive?  Do you get defensive when criticized?  Do you show favoritism?

B. Ask others how they like to be communicated with. You may have to slow down, give more instruction, or temper your enthusiasm to communicate more effectively with your team.

C. Respect peoples differences.  Differences in communication, perspective, backgrounds, skill level.  Don’t assume.  Ask questions.

“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

“In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.” ~ Margaret Wheatley