L-E-A-D-E-R: Are you a great authentic leader?

Over the last 2 months as I have been speaking to various groups, I have increasingly been getting the question, “What do you consider to be the characteristics of a great leader”? I believe that strong, powerful, effective leadership begins with authenticity, but also involves being decisive, clear and efficient with directions and respectful of the people and the talent that you are managing. If people believe that they are experiencing the REAL you, then they are likely to feel more comfortable believing what you SAY, understanding what you DO, and therefore, more apt to feel confident in following you. In addition, there are a few more summary thoughts that I have regarding effective leadership. Over the next 6 weeks, I will share a few quick thoughts about being an effective leader, letter by letter.

L is for Leverage

Great leaders understand leverage. They understand that there is no monopoly on intellect that they will not ALWAYS have the best idea, the best answer, and the best strategy and therefore, they understand how important it is to leverage others’ ideas and thoughts. Great leaders know how to inspire and harness the best thoughts/ideas/strategies of others and use them to inform or develop the best product, outcome, or execution for the team, project or company. Good leaders strive to create an environment where their team will want to assert their ideas and thoughts. The people that work for you, should understand that they are all invested in the team‘s success and should want to contribute. A great leader creates an environment where their people are not afraid to fail and are motivated to put forth the creative, out of the box, risky idea. They create an environment where leveraging someone else’s idea is encouraged because the team wins, not just one person. The leader can then leverage their team’s ideas and efforts in a way that everyone benefits.

A good leader also understands that he/she should be a point of leverage for his or her boss or senior management as well. No matter where you are in your career there is always someone ahead of you. If you are a Vice President, there is an Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President ahead of you. If you are a President, there is a CEO, that you answer to and if you are a CEO, there is a Chairman of the Board that you report to. No matter where you are, your job is to leverage your position to make your boss’ job easier or in old professional parlance, “to make him or her look good.” Whether you like him or her or not, is almost irrelevant, part of delivering your assignment or role with excellence is outperforming their expectations in order to continue your ascension to the top or maximizing your success.

If you want to be a great leader, LEVERAGE your people, your talents, relationships, networks to consistently achieve BEST outcomes.