Barry Posner, a professor at Santa Clara University and co-author of the book, “The Leadership Challenge,” claims there are five things that separate good leaders from bad leaders.
According to Posner, good leaders:
Model the Way
They have clarified their values, they have affirmed their values and they have aligned their values with actions. When asked, “Who are you as a leader?” they have an immediate answer. They understand that actions speak louder than words.
Inspire a Shared Vision
They see a better world by imagining and enabling endless possibilities. They have convinced their people to join their vision of a brighter future by connecting with their shared aspirations. In other words, they know where they are going.
Wayne Gretzky, one of the best hockey players to ever lace up skates said the difference in a good hockey player and a great hockey player is the distinction of knowing where the puck will be is as opposed to knowing where the puck is. Great leaders can anticipate great things. They build trust among their people that if they get to the right spot, their teammates will set them up for success.
Like a great point guard in basketball, a great leader has enough vision to see the play develop before it happens.
They do not let volatility, uncertainty, change or ambiguity impair their vision. They can lead in the fog. Despite challenges, they provide enough clarity to their followers to stay the course. They see the bigger picture. They have insight as well as outsight.
Challenge the Process
This leadership value is the Achilles heel of most government managers. They forfeit the opportunity to seize the initiative to think out of the box for continuous improvement. They let the bureaucracy and compliance cultures blind them to experimentation and risk taking.
Good leaders look beyond their job descriptions for improvement even if it challenges the status quo. They understand that leadership is about learning from doing while making mistakes and encountering failure.
Most importantly, they model these behaviors for their people as they challenge them to grow and develop by being receptive to innovation and creativity outside their own experiences.
Enable Others to Act
This may be the most important leadership value as great leaders build trust and collaboration among their direct reports. Once they get their oxygen mask on, they help their people find their life lines to self-determination and full potential. They ask their employees, “What do you need from me?” and then they get out of the way.
They create a sense of ownership among their colleagues where they can see their role in the success of the organization. They allow others to make choices about their work and exercise discretion over their actions. Their people feel like their inputs and viewpoints are consistently taken under consideration.
Encourage the Heart
Above average leaders recognize and appreciate their team members. They regularly celebrate achievements in a way that builds community. They avoid taking their people for granted. They create an atmosphere of positivity that open people’s hearts and minds to endless possibilities.
Not only to they recognize and appreciate their direct reports but they personalize it in a way that is consistent with their language of appreciation.
If you do some of these things as a leader, not only will you enhance your leadership; you will create incredible workplaces that deliver great results for our clients and customers as we lead them to a brighter tomorrow.