Archive for October, 2012

What’s the Key to Being a Good Leader?

Ever since I wrote my leadership book, Final Four Leadership, I often get asked what I think makes for a good leader. The good thing is that we’ve evolved from a society that traditionally had one style of acceptable leadership, to one that now has been able to identify a variety of leadership styles that work. The traditional style to which I refer was one born from the military, and it was utilized by strong politicians, athletic coaches, as well as corporate business folks. That style still has value today, and it’s still utilized to a great deal in a variety of professions.

But back to the initial question. What do I think makes up a good leader? Drawing from my dozen years competing in the athletic arena, my 28 years in the professional world (including 15 years as a senior administrator) and my 16 years coaching youth sports, I’ve seen it all, good and bad. Over a few posts, I’m going to try to describe for you some of the significant characteristics that make up good leaders.

This has nothing to do with the upcoming election between President Obama and Mitt Romney, and it has no political juice to it whatsoever. So if you’re searching for controversy, you’re in the wrong spot. Although I’m sure reasonable folks will have an opinion on what I think comprises a good leader.

#1 – I’ve written about this before, but after interviewing the eight coaches for Final Four Leadership, and then using that lens to examine other leaders I’ve come in contact with, I think the most important trait for a leader to exhibit is Authenticity.

What does that mean? In the simplest terms, Authenticity means that no matter what setting you find yourself in, the people around you know that what they are seeing and hearing from you is the same thing that other groups will be seeing and hearing from you. When people see you in the grocery store, your behavior and  your attitude will be consistent with what people see in your place of business, your place of worship or in your home.

In other words, DON’T BE A PHONY! People can identify a phony from a mile away, and with the myriad of technological devices, you can’t get away with anything. When you are a phony it destroys your credibility, and it decreases the level of trust that people will have in you. If your colleagues, your friends, or, heaven forbid, your family, has to figure out with whom they are dealing with everyday, it’s difficult to build solid relationships.

If you’re a jerk, be a jerk consistently. People can adjust to that. But if you’re a jerk one day and Ghandi the next, you’re sending mixed signals and folks will avoid you completely. Does that mean if you’re a jerk you shouldn’t change? No. But if you can’t make a complete transformation, going halfway won’t help your cause.

Just be yourself, regardless of the setting or circumstances. People will gravitate to you and follow your lead when they know who they are dealing with on a consistent basis.

Posted by on October 25th, 2012 No Comments