More on what great leaders are like

Skip Walter had a great blog post recently on what great leaders are like, and what less-than-great-leaders are like. It was educational and also painful to read because of the juxtaposition. So here’s Skip’s post with just the “great” statements – it’s more aspirational than comparative, so it serves somewhat of a different purpose than the original.

  • A great leader always develops talent
  • A great leader encourages active and confronting dialogue
  • A great leader actively seeks current reality– what is really happening now
  • A great leader seeks first to understand, before trying to be understood
  • A great leader accepts responsibility when things go wrong
  • A great leader is inclusive and uses “we” when things are going right and gives specific attribution to those who made the good thing happen
  • A great leader has a vision and a passion for and a plan for getting to BHAGs
  • A great leader understands that leadership is always taken, never given
  • A great leader uses the Outcome Frame (What are we trying to create? How will we know we created it? … )
  • A great leader understands that it is results that matter not how hard somebody works
  • A great leader respects others’ time, and plans carefully
  • A great leader eliminates and dissolves problems so that no one even knew there was a problem looming
  • A great leader adds creative energy to every environment they participate in
  • A great leader understands the Theory of Constraints (from Eli Goldratt’s The Goal) and knows that in any system only a few work steps need to be managed
  • A great leader hires only Talent that has a passion for continuous personal development – life long learners who are also good at developing other people’s Talent
  • A great leader under promises and over delivers
  • A great leader treats everyone with extraordinary respect
  • A great leader understands the value of strategic networking and gives to the network long before they need to extract value from the network
  • A great leader understands the dynamics of value exchange relationships
  • A great leader provides feedback on things which need improvement in private and with frameworks which allow the other person to generalize and learn and develop
  • A great leader generates plans and organizational structures which are sustainable without the leader present
  • A great leader shares all information and knowledge they possess to help develop others
  • A great leader creates work environments that lead to sustainability for the planet
  • A great leader understands that no human is exactly like him/her and that one needs to be flexible in dealing with talent (see David Keirsey Temperament Indicator)
  • A great leader practices deep listening skills always
  • A great leader is 10X. They break the old command and control mold. They are transformational. They create brand new paradigms and enable others to do the same.
  • A great leader is generative
  • A great leader does not draw attention to their first rater status
  • A great leader works proactively to create an environment where innovation and technical accomplishment are anticipated, appreciated and celebrated
  • A great leader hires exceptional people with exceptional capabilities and manages the differences that exceptional people exhibit
  • A great leader identifies and clears barriers before the team runs into them
  • A great leader changes the rules to create an outcome that meets or exceeds organizational expectations
  • A great leader leads from the front like a Navy SEAL team leader
  • A great leader shows up for important events and serves the team in time of crisis; they are part of the team
  • A great leader is focused on outcomes, not the tactics to accomplish them
  • A great leader isn’t rewarded because there weren’t any heroics to be performed; their contribution isn’t recognized
  • A great leader may continue to try and change the rules, lead, and be a team player but may become frustrated and/or leave due to second-rater influence
  • A great leader makes the right thing happen at the right time
  • A great leader believes that the upside to listening is always greater than that of speaking and therefore typically listens to others and digests their thoughts before speaking themselves
  • A great leader implements processes and procedures where they believe it will facilitate achieving a business objective
  • A great leader works with the personalities of their team (but challenges personal growth as well as professional growth)
  • A great leader shows compassion for the person in all of the challenges that life brings each of us
  • A great leader always reacts the same – giving the team a trusting environment in which to concentrate on themselves and their work
  • A great leader embraces change and encourages the team to take the opportunities that come with each change
  • A great leader shows vision, inspires and leads their team towards worthy goals

(To get this list, I replaced the words “first rater” with “great leader” from Skip’s post, and deleted the second and third rater statements. I also deleted a couple of ones that I thought weren’t exactly on topic. Skip, my apologies for mangling your list!)

2 Responses to “More on what great leaders are like”

  1. Great piece of work Adam. No problem mangling the list. As the authors said in the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0, it is all about the M’s: mix, match, mash, manifest. Thanks for manifesting something wonderful.

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