The characteristics of a leader are changing. For a long time, leaders were perceived to be people of all knowing, unemotional, rule driven and top down direction. Yet, over time, thankfully, reality has crept in. Leaders are people too. They suffer from doubt, have emotions and don’t have all the answers. In my view the role of a leader is not to know everything but to be able to ask the right questions in order to develop an understanding from those they work and make a decision. Equally, a leader needs to create an environment in which their colleagues can undertake their work in an effective, efficient and a positive way.
Linda Hill’s ground breaking article ‘Becoming a manager’, identified that leaders/managers are not the technical expert rather someone who manages the task through others. To do that leaders need to accept that they don’t need to know everything rather they need to be able to relate to and understand those they work with to get the best out of them. They also need to make sure people accept and want their role in achieving goals. So, what are the key attributes people would like out of their leaders, here’s what I think:
- Respect – for the knowledge people hold
- Trust – that people have been through a process that demonstrates they have the skill to do the job (let them do it)
- Kindness – generous in time and knowledge sharing with people
- Clarity – for what people’s roles are and what they are meant to be achieving
- Decisiveness – people like decisions being made otherwise ambiguity exists and that can be disabling
These are the attributes that I think are most important in a leader. I am sure there will be plenty of differing views or weightings. I am happy to be challenged……..in fact, I encourage it, what do you think?