A few days ago, a good friend of mine and I were discussing the term “leadership”; what it truly meant and the qualities and traits of a good leader.  Webster’s defines leadership as a person who guides or directs a group.  That’s it?  Come on, Webster!   You can do better than that!

Which one can give me a better definition of “leadership”?  Hint: It’s not who you’d think!

What does leadership mean to you?  What makes a good leader?  I’ve been asking a lot of people this question over the last 48 hours, and everyone seems to have a different answer.  However, many of the answers shared some common themes; themes which I will try to express in my extended definition.

Leaders genuinely care about their team.  Leaders realize that in addition to team goals, that each individual has personal goals too, and so the leaders will actively seek out ways for both to be accomplished.  Leaders will clearly articulate the team goals and work with the team on ways to accomplish these goals.

Leaders are open-minded to the ideas of the people on their team, and realize that listening and learning from the team will ultimately benefit the entire group.  Leaders will care more about what is right than about being right.

Leaders have integrity and are fair, honest, and approachable.  Even in failure, a leader will treat their team with respect and will make decisions based on knowledge and factual information rather than emotion.

Leaders are trusted, and they earn that trust by respecting everyone around them.  They also earn that trust by trusting their team.  They will work beside their team and stay focused on “us” rather than “me”.  As praise is handed out, the leader will stand behind their team.  When criticism befalls the team, the leader will stand in front.

One of the best books I’ve ever read!

If you haven’t read this book, I would highly recommend it!  It really highlights the differences between “good” leaders and “great” leaders!

I’m sure there are a lot more characteristics to being a leader, and so I welcome any comments that you have on the topic.  Finally, I’ll leave you with one last thought.  You do not have to be in a leadership position to be a leader.  Leaders can be anyone.  A leader can be a small child with a learning disorder and an incredible and inspiring zest for life.  A leader can be a friend who helps another in need.  A leader can be you.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams


4 thoughts on “Leadership

  1. Inspiring post Shark! I should buy that book. I think it’s always good to aspire to be a good leader in someway or another. Everyone enjoys the feeling of someone looking out for there best interests, so that strong support person might as well be ourselves sometimes.

    • I can’t remember where I read it, but somewhere I read that everyone, in some way or fashion, wants to be led. That’s not to say that everyone wants to be a follower, but rather that everyone wants to have some sort of leader in their life. It’s comforting to know that there are people out there who want the best for you, whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, etc.

  2. I particularly like the last part of the post where you state that anyone can be a leader. So often people get stuck waiting for someone else to take control of a situation. A typical situation is when an employee feels frustrated because they don’t feel that their boss is showing any leadership. In such situations I always advise people to combine lateral leadership, leading by example from within the team, with developing skills to manage your boss.

    • It’s just as important to manage up as it is to manage down. If you are able to lead by example, people will naturally follow. Great leaders don’t ask people to follow them – people will follow them because they want to.

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