What makes a good leader?

what-makes-a-good-leaderA few weeks ago I was asked by Ross McGuinness to contribute to an article he was writing about leadership for METRO – the free daily newspaper in London. My first thought – as I was on holiday – was that I had probably missed his deadline, usually when I am contacted by journalists they need it straightaway – on this occasion I had thirty minutes in which to respond to his four questions:

  1. What makes a good leader?
  2. Are leaders made or born?
  3. What are the different types of leaders?
  4. Who stands out?

Given that I only had thirty minutes, and remembering that often ‘first thoughts are best thoughts’ I set about answering question one.  We’d love to hear your thoughts to any or all of the four questions – do get in touch.  Here is what I wrote followed by the link to the METRO article:

Good leaders know what they really care about, their values and beliefs. They know what they stand for and have given this thought and are able to embody their values and their beliefs in their behaviour, in their actions.

Leaders who truly value people and are relationship centred make good leaders they not only know what they themselves care about but they also genuinely care about others, are interested in them. Those leaders who truly excel in this are really curious in their people. They are curious about what makes people tick, they want to know what matters to them and how they can help them to be and to bring their best to work and to succeed.

Good leaders are keen to not only develop themselves, to be more self aware, and conscious of who they are being but they are also committed to developing others – as leaders. They believe in developing people, in developing their potential, even when sometimes people themselves may not believe it.

Good leaders are great at seeing possibilities and creating them, they are good at thinking positive. They are great at creating a vision, and of engaging people in that vision – of creating with their people a future that matters and that people want to co-create together. They know the difference that they want to make through their leadership – they know why they are doing what they are doing! They are clear on their purpose and are good at engaging others in and together creating a shared purpose, a common vision.

Good leaders build big relationships with people, this is not about being ‘best friends’ but about being able to have courageous conversations with people. They create an environment in which people feel safe enough to have these kinds of conversations, and in which people feel able to give, receive and ask for feedback.

They are encouraging of innovation, of possibilities, of thinking big – and when people stumble and, or make mistakes they are forgiving at the same time as helping people to learn and grow from them. They themselves take responsibility for their own mistakes, they are humble at the same time as confident in themselves.

Good leaders are good at appreciating people, at acknowledging them for their contribution and they do this regularly! They are good at asking for feedback from others, indeed they are keen to know what impact they have on people as they want to have a positive impact and the only way they can really find out is if they ask for feedback! This in and of itself helps build trust, and openness, it helps build big relationships in which people feel not only supported but also challenged. They are good at building a great support network and helping others to do the same.

These leaders inspire people to be their best, through aspiring themselves to be their best – people want to be part of their team and to together as a team achieve great results.

by Anni Townend


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