What makes a good leader?

There are three simple keys to modern leadership which summarize what great leaders do. Leadership has evolved throughout the years and has gone from a more authoritarian model to a more collaborative model. I always find it odd when I hear people say ” my staff ” or ” I have 50 people under me ” These old fashioned approaches to leadership create a distinction between leaders and others, however, we are know working with a flat hierarchical organization. As a matter of fact it’s not even flat, it is reversed. 

The new approach to business is the servant leadership pyramid model.  While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in “The Servant as Leader”, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, Greenleaf said “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”


Empowerment is the simple act of trusting your people to do the right thing. The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to professional support of people, which enables them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognize and use their resources. The term empowerment originates from American community psychology and is associated with the social scientist Julian Rappaport (1981). 


A leader must inspire and motivate in order to achieve a common goal. People simply want to be recognized for their contributions and positive reinforcement is the most important way to accomplish this. Motivation is based on positivity – why not catch someone doing right as opposed to the opposite. 


I prefer the term coach instead of leader. The best birthday card I received this past year from my team included these words . . . ” You are a true inspiration and a great coach and leader – thanks for pushing us and motivating us ” The best part of being a coach is that you have a team which really describes what a business unit represents. Team members (1) operate with a high degree of interdependence, (2) share authority and responsibility for self-management, (3) are accountable for the collective performance, and (4) work toward a common goal and shared rewards(s). A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members. 

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