A couple of days ago I blogged about a TED Talk given by Roselinde Torres entitled, “What it Takes to be a Great Leader.” In the talk Ms. Torres outlined what she believes it takes to be a great leader, all of which I agree with. I wanted to expound on her thoughts and offer some of my own personal opinions on the topic.
In order to be an effective leader, you have to have people who WANT to follow you; not because they HAVE to follow you (because you might be their boss), but because they want to. So the question then becomes, why would someone want to follow you? From my experience, people want to follow someone because they look up to or admire that person in some way.
The next question then becomes, what causes people to look up to you? What makes you admirable? I believe that the following qualities (and surely others) help people become more admirable; to become someone others look up to, and ultimately someone that others WANT to follow:
- To me this means adhering to a code of ethics or morals that you believe to be true. It means understanding the difference between “right” and “wrong” and consistently trying to living the “right.” When mistakes are made you own up to them and try to become better. I love this saying that I recently heard from Coach Jim Harbaugh, “Be better today than you were yesterday, and be better tomorrow than you are today.” No one is perfect, but I believe that striving to always live each day with increasing integrity is one of the keys to become a great leader.
- If you can’t be trusted you can’t lead, it’s that simple. In order for people to look toward you for leadership, they have to be able to trust you. Are you person of your word? Are you honest with those that you work and associate with? Here’s the kicker with trust: it takes significant time and testing to build, but it can be lost in a single moment, and once it’s lost it becomes very difficult to restore. Great leaders have earned the trust from those that follow them through consistently being honest over an extending period of time.
- Do you remember that leader you once had who consistently belittled you, yelled at you, humiliated you, and who you would run through a brick wall for? Yeah…me neither. When I think of the great leaders I’ve associated with throughout my life, I think of men and women who were kind to me. I think of people who genuinely seemed to care about me as a person, and who had my best interests at heart. Great leaders care for and are kind to others; they make a difference in other people’s lives.
Please feel free to take a moment below and comment with any other qualities you feel it takes to be a great leader.