Leadership is a matter of the head and the heart--it's about results and relationships. So, if you're in a leadership role now or aspiring to one, the journey toward leadership greatness never ends. But it does have a starting point.
The beginning of the journey requires self-evaluation. Eventually, anyone calling herself a "leader" must hold up the mirror and ask some real tough questions to assess whether she meets the high standards of leadership.
To that end, the more you answer no to the following four questions, the bigger the clue that you may have some rough waters ahead (or a great opportunity to improve your leadership skills).
1. Do you truly value others as human beings?
Great leaders value others by believing and trusting in their people. They show respect and dignity and maintain a high view of their employees. They listen receptively, without judgment, and often put others first before self.
2. Do you share your leadership?
Great leaders share their power by pushing authority down to lower ranks, and through it all, empower others to make decisions. By sharing status in relation to position and authority, they use persuasion to influence others instead of coercion.
3. Do you make decisions with integrity?
Employees are watching their leader's every move. If you're making unethical or questionable decisions for financial gain or personal benefit, they know. And if they know, you've already lost the battle for respect. But if you reject wrongdoing, lead by example, are reliable and credible, and speak with truth, it says a lot about you--the person.
In the book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, author and psychologist Henry Cloud says, "Who a person is will ultimately determine if their brains, talents, competencies, energy, effort, deal-making abilities, and opportunities will succeed."
4. Do you display humility as a leadership strength?
I've heard a few times from people in positions of power that humility is weak. Yet this core virtue drives at the inner strongholds that make a bad leader: pride, self-centeredness, control, and impulsiveness.
Author and thought-leader Jim Collins has dedicated more time writing about humble leaders than any other topic in his landmark study of Level 5 Leadership. He states,
Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious--but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.