What does it really take to be a good leader?

My longer winded than a simple reply response to Richard’s blog. 

A lot of my peer group (I’m talking about colleagues and friends who are moving out of doing stuff to leading stuff) have an idea about what good leadership is. Most of us get it.

The kicker is actually doing it. When I ran leadership development training I used to tell leaders that they just need to prioritize it and, to Richard’s words, run with it. But it’s not as simple as that. Those that were successful were natural leaders with high levels of self awareness and openness. Those that had no self-awareness were, well, just arseholes.

In both cases, we still didn’t talk about what made those individual leaders fallible.

I reflect on my own challenge. I get that being connected and conscientious is important and I place a lot of value in it. I understand that building relationships is really important and empathy is a key part of it. I know that leadership is more about empowering and inspiring other people than being self-centered and arrogant. This stuff means a lot to me and I aspire to it.

But half the time I want to tell people to F off and sort their S out. Can I get a holler please because I don’t think I’m the only one.

I’m putting this out there because it’s like the F’n elephant in the room. You can read articles and participate in conversations, training etc etc. about what great leadership is until the cows come home. But when do we ever have really authentic conversations about when we suck at being leaders? Who admits that?

I mean, who would admit that? Perhaps just doing so myself is career limiting. But if we are to strip out the bullshit and make leadership real and credible surely this is a conversation that needs to be had. How do we foster the mindset that it’s ok to do that and not hide behind a perfect facade that you’re struggling to create?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these things should be used as an excuse to treat people like crap. There is no excuse for acting like a prick.

But you can know everything about what it takes to be a great leader, it’s another thing entirely to actually be one.

3 thoughts on “What does it really take to be a good leader?

  1. hrmannz

    You’ve made a very valid point Amanda and yes I will also admit to yearning to tell some people to just get their S#@t sorted as well. But what you’ve touched on is what makes a conscious organisation. This is one where regular, authentic discussions happen with managers – upwards, downwards and sideways. No organisation will have great leaders, or any leaders for that matter, unless they foster an environment and culture of continuous feedback and discussion and where acting like a prick is the rare exception not the rule. Developing good leaders is one challenge facing HR, but creating the right environment for them to grow and succeed is the other. Are we up to the task?

  2. Pingback: Best Blogs 14 February 2014 | ChristopherinHR

  3. Pingback: #NZLEAD PREVIEW: What does it take to be an authentic leader? | NZLEAD

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