What makes a good Leader?
Just what is the major ingredient for a good leader?
The more I played with this thought, the more I came to see that just about anyone could be a good leader.
Intelligence or education was not necessarily a criteria because I had seen some brilliant leadership shown by people with Downs Syndrome. I had seen similar leadership style with people who had never studied beyond 4th year at primary (grade) school.
Training or natural skill was not a criteria either as I had seen some people who had never once taken on a leadership role, suddenly have it thrust upon them because of a death in the family, or in such organisations as Outward Bound where the original leader was hurt and a relatively quiet follower suddenly morphs into view and takes over seamlessly.
There are other criteria but in all cases , except one, it seems that leadership does not hinge on them being possessed.
That one thing that seemed to be present in so many good leaders, remember the emphasis is on good, was that they knew who they were. They were not caught up in the belief that they had to create a specific image to be the leader.
No BS, No airs and graces, no pretend to be what they were not. They were totally honest about who they were, completely at peace with themselves.
They knew who they were, both their strengths and their weaknesses. They were trusted because the potential followers saw in them, someone who was open and honest and at times would admit that they didn’t have all the answers.
In my coaching model I initially spend quite a bit of time working with my client using different profiling and typing tools to help them get a generic awareness of just who they appear to be, so they can grow a fuller understanding of what makes them tick.
Some of the awareness’s are challenging to the client as there is within many of us an unwillingness to see the obvious. As the Robbie Burns poem, “The Louse” says, “O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us”. Or in the English we better know, “O would some power give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us.”
It takes a great deal of openness and honesty to have our faults and failings pointed out to us and to accept them, take them on board and do something to change them. The usual temptation is to jump to defend our position or to justify ourselves. Whilst at the same time possibly choosing to shoot the messenger.
We do what we do and tend to believe that that is the way it is. Choosing to see that anyone who does not see it our way must be defective. My mother used to quote Robert Owen, “All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer”. Before queer acquired a homophobic inference. It was from her that I began to see the wisdom of the poem.
To believe that I was the only one who was right all the time, and on their disagreement the other person, by definition must always be wrong, was the premise that so many worked from in many areas of life.
The person who truly knows who they are, or, who at least is on a journey of self knowledge, is the one who will make the best leader.
The responsibility of profiling tools is not just to point out who one is. Rather they are pointing out where the journey of self awareness starts.
When I can accept who I am, then I am in a much better place to accept who you are. With this understanding I am in a better place to listen to your understanding and add it to mine. This is synchronicity. This is when you observe that that the combined awareness of two people working together is far greater than both awareness’s taken independently.
Self assessment for a good leader is ongoing. As my coaching model is followed through we keep coming back to asking the question, who can I stretch to become, (What can I be that I did not realise I could be?) who have I now become, (How have I grown in understanding and awareness through my recent experiences?)
I am happy to work with anyone who is open to search for awareness of who they are and for who they could be.
You could develop your leadership style!