By Dan Hall
From as early as I can remember, I was considered a leader. It might have been as simple as leading the line to lunch in second grade or as heady as being captain of the football team.
Often, a leader is defined as “one you can depend on to get things done.” After 35 years of leading adults, I’ve concluded that great leaders are not simply those that “get things done,” but those who infect people and places with passion and purpose for a meaningful and positive outcome.
Here are five of several qualities I believe great leaders possess:
1. Great leaders elevate others.
Too many people in authority want credit and accolades for their accomplishments. But a great leader seeks to make those around, and under, them the “heroes” of every story and accomplishment.
2. Great leaders own responsibility.
A great leader owns responsibility in two ways: 1) whatever the job requires, they get it done at whatever personal cost. They don’t give in to self-pity and excuses but find a way to get the job done; and 2) when they make a mistake, they own that mistake. Rather than making excuses or accusing others, they acknowledge the mistake and reflect on how not to make that mistake again.
3. Great leaders are teachable.
It’s difficult to be a leader without possessing enough knowledge and intellect to guide others. However, a great leader is always learning and is willing to learn even from those they lead. Being a “know-it-all” will keep people from trusting you, but show yourself willing to learn and others will follow you to exceptional lengths.
4. Great leaders are steady.
Great leaders can stand in the midst of chaos, confusion, criticism and complaint and not waiver. No matter how insecure they might feel inside, no matter how much mental and emotional anguish it might cause them, the great leader holds steady for others to follow in the passion of the stated purpose.
5. Great leaders are resilient.
In most cases, making a mistake does not disqualify the leader. What DOES disqualify the leader is their refusal or inability to get back up and try again. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 24:16 — “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” The mark of a righteous person is not that they never fail but that, after failing, they get up and go again.
For those of us who desire to be great leaders, whether that’s the head of an organization or being a faithful parent, let’s cultivate the qualities that make us truly effective.
Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills. He and his wife, Hazel, have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at Dan@OnCourseSolutions.com.