Often when we think of great leaders we conjure up images of Sergeants leading the charge up the hill, or the Captain of the team carrying the team to victory, or the inspiration speech of the C.E.O. to galvanize the team to greater performance.
However, when I reflect back on my career and the leaders that stand out in my mind; they all had the ability to inspire me to want to be better on a regular basis. Not just better in an intangible way but to want to meet and even exceed their expectations; both in achieving tangible performance metrics and in day to day behaviour that would earn their respect. What did they have that other potential leaders or people in positions of similar influence did not have?
For one thing they were consistent in their behaviour and demeanor; you could always count on them to be available, respond to requests and give a similar answer to a similar question regardless on the day or the circumstances. They did not display extreme mood swings nor did they over re-act when faced with their adversity.
The leaders I reflect back on fondly also were able to lead me to truly believe they cared about the people they worked with as individuals. They got to know their people and genuinely expressed real interest in knowing what mattered to them.
Not only did they care; I was made to feel that these leaders truly supported their people and fought to get the resources they needed to be successful. They triumphed their team’s success but; failures were a shared responsibility.
The leaders I wanted to emulate made decisions after garnering as much information they could within the time frame allowed. They stood by their decisions. They made their calls when required even if they did not have perfect information.
These leaders set priorities, based upon achieving a maximum return on the resources deployed. When targets were achieved – new ones were set! The bar was always being raised.
I always felt valued by these leaders as they would praise when merited. They ensured that team members received the recognition they deserved for jobs well done.
When I earned their trust I felt empowered to get on with what needed doing; knowing they were not scrutinizing every move or looking over my shoulder. This caused me to want to communicate frequently with these leaders to ensure they were aware of progress.
When, from time to time, the inevitable conflict arose, good leaders stepped in and mediated solutions – they were dealt with in a timely fashion and not ignored, and when difficult personnel decisions needed to be made they were done effectively and compassionately.
So, how do you want to be remembered?