Great leadership can be a difficult thing to understand. We certainly know a good leader when we’re working for one (or not working for one for that matter), but it's difficult to explain the specific actions that make a good leader so effective. Great leadership is dynamic. It changes us for the better, because a good leader helps us see the best for ourselves because ultimately they believe in us.
The only certainty is a leader’s actions are driven by their principles. It’s through a leader’s actions that the essence of great leadership becomes apparent. Great leaders inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. They believe in their people, and this belief drives them to create an environment where people thrive. So let’s explore some of the driving principles that set great leaders apart.
Great Leaders Respect that Employees are Individuals
Ordinary managers lump people together, trying to motivate, reward, and teach everyone in the same way. Great leaders treat people as individuals, respecting the fact that everyone has their own motivation and style of learning. Something different makes each employee tick, and the best leaders will stop at nothing to figure out what that is.
Great Leaders Believe that Employees are Equals
Ordinary managers treat their employees like children; they believe that they need constant oversight. These leaders think that their function is to administer rules, make sure things run their way, and watch over people’s shoulders for mistakes. Great leaders see employees as colleagues who are perfectly capable of making decisions for themselves. Rather than constantly stepping in, remarkable leaders make it clear that they value and trust their employees’ work and only interfere when it’s absolutely essential.
Great Leaders Know Work Should be Enjoyable
Ordinary managers see work as something that everyone has to do, whether they want to or not. They think that their job is to make sure that their employees don’t slack off or grow lazy. They say things like, “If it weren’t for me, nothing would ever get done around here.” However, great leaders love their jobs and know that everyone else can too. They give people assignments that support with their strengths, passions, and talents. They celebrate accomplishments and provide people with positive feedback when they do good work.
Great Leaders Motivate with Inspiration
Ordinary managers think that strict rules and enforcement make employees productive. They believe that people need to fear punishment in order to produce their best work. But this puts people in survival mode and they don’t care about the product, the organization, or the consumer experience; they only care about keeping their jobs and appeasing their boss. Great leaders motivate through inspiration. They know that people will respond to their contagious energy, vision and passion, more than anything else.
Great Leaders Encourage Growth
Average leaders fear their smartest, hardest-working employees, supposing that these individuals will surpass them or make them look bad. They hesitate to share information or to enable authority. Great leaders love to see their employees grow. They are always training their replacements and doing whatever they can to create leaders. These leaders want their best employees to amplify their potential, and they know that good feedback and guidance are invaluable.