It’s been a minute. I’m bringing this one back to the top of the pile. Let’s jump right in.
Want to know if you’re a leader?
Leaders Solve Problems
One of the purest marks of a good leader is their ability to solve existing problems. This entails knowing what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, and even more importantly, why it’s being done. If there’s a problem, a follower will only look at it subjectively and mull over what happened and how terrible it is. A leader will see the same problem and begin identifying ways to alleviate the issue once and for all. That’s why the quality of leadership is often seen in emergency situations. Good leaders must be quick on their feet. A missed opportunity can be the fall of a great leader or great organization. Point blank: as a leader, if you’re not solving the problems that occur under your purview, then you are perpetuating them.
Leaders Assess Situations
Assessing assignments is key to problem-solving and all other leadership qualities. A good leader is able to accurately assess what is happening on their watch. This may entail discussion, investigation, asking questions, brainstorms, think tanks, or other ways of fruitful discovery. However the assessment has to be done, a leader worth his or her title knows what is going on under them and knows how to properly analyze current reality so that they can then work toward a better future.
Leaders Create Systems
The larger the organization, the more important systems are. However, no matter how small the following, systems are paramount to leadership and organizational success. What are the methods that are characteristic of the way the organization wants to be represented? What checks and balances are in place to ensure high-quality, competency, fairness, and integrity across the board within the organization? If every decision is made by the seat of the leader’s pants, the organization is headed for big and sudden doom.
Leaders Build People
Leaders build people and leaders build leaders. A good leader makes it part of the mantra to ensure that those following them are working at their best potential. With this, a good leader simultaneously identifies other good leaders, and trains them for their potential, not just their right now. However, building people and other leaders does not stop at training but must also move into implementation and promotion. If there is never a changing of the guard within your organization to make room for more leaders, you will forever be stuck at last season’s best. A good leader should be looking for the next place for all individuals under their leadership.
Leaders Chase Innovation
Doing anything because it has always been done is never a quality set in motion by a good leader. Times change, people change, and similarly, methods must change. While missions may be set in stone for long periods of time or even forever, methods should be fluid enough to change if previous ones are no longer effective. What are other organizations similar to yours doing, and how? What is the latest technology related to your area of leadership? What would an ideal solution be to the organization’s biggest problem? You would be surprised at what solutions are already at play outside of your sphere. And if it hasn’t been done yet, create a system, test it, assess the outcome, and be the mover and shaker that you were created to be.
Leaders Identify Resources
One of the most important things that a leader will ever do is realize what they can or cannot do. This will show them where they need assistance. A good leader can facilitate their resources in such a way that everyone shines. Whether it’s the person working in the organization who has skills that you do not, or an outside consultant brought in to carry out tasks that are not in the strengths of the leader, every leader must fully recognize and then utilize the resources that are readily available to them. No one can do everything, but everyone’s something can make everything available to everyone. It’s the job of the leader to make sure that this happens for the greater good of all involved.
Leaders Follow Leaders
All good leaders start out as good followers. It is impossible to lead when you have never effectively followed. However, exceptional leaders often see beyond where their current leader is. It becomes incumbent upon the lesser leader to manage upward and challenge systems and practices that require revision or improvement. Following does not equate to slaving, however following does mean respect and support of vision that may not originate with you.
Leaders Train Replacements
A leader should see the potential of individuals to not only assume other leadership roles within the organization, but he or she should also seek out those who can be their replacement. Longevity has its place, but nothing is forever. If the leader cares about the organization more than his or her own ego, then succession planning AND succession implementation will be a norm of the organization and not just an abstract theory that never materializes.