Striving to be a Great Leader

What makes a great leader? What person do we think of when asked this question? It may be someone we are drawn to because of inteligence or charisma. Some imagine someone with the ability to give clear direction during times of frustration and uncertainty. Others think of a person that gives emotional support and encouragement in seemingly bleak and insurmountable situations. All of these are acceptable characteristics of succesful leaders and have been validated in various theories and research.

However, I submit that one should step back and evaluate a leader in terms of the general good that he bestows upon his followers and not just on the grounds of the success of particular projects. Being a great leader is much more than that. A leader should be judged ultimately by the long term value he adds to each of his followers. A great leader transforms his followers by unlocking their potential to perform on a much higher level than they ever though possible. He admonishes the virtuous gift of improving someone else’s life. Most importantly, a great leader enhances his followers’ self-worth and self-image, both of which will allow his followers success not only at future jobs, but also in life as better spouses, parents and friends. To sum it up, a great leader must be a life changer.

In order for a leader to achieve this objective, he has to spend time and effort to really know each suborinate on a very personal level. He must understand their long term goals and bestow his experience and knowledge to give them the necessary tools to achieve them. He must remove obsticles laid by thoughts of past failures which leave them uncertain of their self-value. He must overcome poor first impressions and outward apperences and dig deep to find the good in each person and nurture it. A great leader understands that it’s not about him, it’s about others.

The follower desires a leader with honesty, integrety, and moral clarity. A great leader must be honest in terms of never overpromising or underrewarding. His integrety consists of wholesome behavior on and off the job. His moral clarity is displayed by his understanding of right versus wrong. Only when a follower has trust in a leader will he allow himself to be transformed.

This is the type of leader I strive to be. Remember, as leaders we will touch thousands of people in our lifetimes, but each for a relatively short period. If we are lucky enough to be their “life changer”, maybe when they are asked, “What makes a great leader?” our image will appear in their minds.


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