12 Most Genetic Givens of Great Leaders
John Maxwell wisely differentiated, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Isn’t that the truth? An intellectual could know the way, a solo adventurist or entrepreneur may go the way, but a true leader does both and then guides others to that shared destination of success. Welcome to this continuation of the 12 Most ABC’s of Leadership. You can catch up by reading 12 Most Fantastic “F” Facets of Great Leaders. Meanwhile, here are my 12 Most Genetic Givens of Great Leaders.
Great leaders know how to galvanize their teams. They are especially good at inspiring teams after a recent loss or setback, and they know how to “circle the wagons” and re-establish a unified front.
I appreciate Winston Churchill’s perspective: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Great leaders lead by example with their generosity, and it comes in many forms — time, kind words, service to others… and the occasional salary increase or bonus!
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” Martin Luther King, Jr knew how to mold consensus, so it is no surprise this is his quote. To be genuine is to also be transparent and frank. Employees know they can trust a genuine leader.
One of my absolute favorite quotes came from Abraham Lincoln: “Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” To be germane is to be both relevant and essential. I have sat in highly productive development meetings that were derailed by insecure leaders who thought they needed to contribute some wisdom. In their efforts to appear productive and useful, they became a detriment. Their input was neither relevant nor essential. Great leaders set aside ego and realize that silence may be a sufficient facilitator.
Gifted leaders are remarkable in their capacity to find and leverage the gifts in their teammates. They transcend the need to be a superstar, individual contributor. Instead, they focus on guiding the troops to bigger accomplishments.
Let’s add a little cultural relevance for the generation now entering the professional workforce: Be gnarly!! I show my age when my first impression of “gnarly” is a picture of the witch who tried to make a snack out of Hansel and Gretel. Surfers, skateboarders and X-gamers know that to be gnarly is to be outright magnificent and sensational. Great leaders are sensational and they are effective leading ALL generations.
7. Good hearted
Nelson Mandela went through amazing trials and even imprisonment. Yet he had the grace to state: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Recognizing that success will most likely be a result of team efforts and abilities, great leaders focus on providing an insightful and goodhearted presence.
By definition, gracious has a lot of overlap with good hearted. However, my thoughts go to the great leaders who are gracious in both victory and defeat. They remain diplomatic in all situations.
William Arthur Ward stated: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Real leaders are grateful for their success, and they are willing to express their gratitude to the people who contributed to that success.
Gregarious leaders are outgoing and approachable. They have the power to instill an unpretentious culture of two-way communications. And where there is open-communication, there is likely to be higher morale and trust.
A common theme you see throughout this ABC’s of Leadership series is the need for employees to trust their leaders. It is important to trust leaders’ judgment, but it is also important to trust their motives. Guileless leaders are sincere and aboveboard (which is one of my favorite adjectives).
Most of these adjectives have focused on the softer side of leadership: being generous, gregarious, and good hearted. However, great leaders are also gutsy. They make the tough calls. They know how to assess risks and rewards, make the decisions based upon data and experience, and then live with the outcomes.
What defines a great leader for you? Do you like a gentler approach, or do you want the gutsy, in-your-face motivator?
Here are 12 G’s Not To Be: gangrenous (rotten/addled), garish, ghastly, glib (flippant/disrespectful), gloating, gloomy, gluttonous, gonzo, gossipy, grouchy, groveling, and gutless.
Republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most. Photo Credit: letter G by Leo Reynolds, on Flickr