The Essential Traits of a Good Leader
Guest Blogger, Paulo da Costa: “Paulo has worked in Media, Marketing and Research for the past 18 years. He is also a qualified Life Coach. When he heard about the opportunity of working with Google as a Coach he ran to it and never looked back.”
“A leader is best when people barely knows he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say: we did it ourselves!”
This is a quote from chinese philosopher Lao Tzu between 6th or 4th BC. In a nutshell he summarised exactly what it means to be a good leader.
Today we are changing the paradigm of the “Boss” as we are transforming it into a 21st century “Leader.” It is now widely accepted that the “Boss” character encompasses undesirable traits and the “Leader” represents a much more positive leadership attitude.
Back in the day, the Boss would drive employees by giving them orders. The Leader makes sure that employees know what they are doing by teaching them and coaching them. If the employee is appropriately coached rather than simply told what to do, it is likely that the end result will be more favourable.
- Good Will
Formerly, authority was the way to do things. By ordering someone to perform a task, the Boss would be putting himself in a superior position. When the Leader asks an employee to perform a task, he will put himself in a similar situation, using empathy to develop trust with the employee.
- Create Enthusiasm
The Boss inspired fear when dealing with an employee, similar to the biblical demand: “Perform or you shall be punished”. An employee will always perform better if they are motivated and if the Leader can create enthusiasm and motivation. The outcome generated by motivation will be much greater and more valuable than one motivated by fear.
- Team Spirit
Being a Boss meant addressing everything in the first person. For example,“I want this chore to be done by Tuesday.” By being a Leader you are part of the team, working alongside your colleagues and putting yourself on their level to communicate that working as a team will achieve much better results. For example, “Yes, we can”.
- Fixes the breakdowns
Unfortunately, in many companies the Boss would blame and shame people for their mistakes. But is it productive? Of course not. Everyone makes mistakes, but a true Leader will find answers alongside the employees and tries to fix their mistakes with them. Leaders find a solution rather than blaming employees for the problem.
- Leading by example
The Boss knew how tasks should be done but preferred to hold on to that knowledge rather than sharing it, as he was afraid of jeopardising his position. Leading by example is a very important trait for a Leader, as by showing someone how it is done you are empowering them to do the same.
- Developing People
Bosses were experts in using people. If they needed a task done, they might use an employee to do the task by telling them to do so. A Leader, on the other hand, develops an employee by helping and guiding them to complete the task. It’s all about teaching rather than ordering
- Gives Credit
A Boss might take credit for the good things that happen in a company and by doing so, ignore the credit that their employee is due and therefore demotivate the employee in question. The Leader gives credit to the employee when it is deserved, motivating them to perform even better next time. The human being prefers to be praised rather then ignored.
As we started with Lao Tzu, I felt it was appropriate to finish with Lao Tzu also:
“When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally.”