Speaking to a group of University of Georgia students two decades ago, Buffett was asked, "Whom should I go to work for when I graduate from college?" He offered up simple and timeless advice, whether you've graduated from college or the school of hard knocks:
"Go to work for whomever you admire the most...you can't get a bad result. You'll jump out of bed in the morning and you'll be having fun."
Whom you admire the most may differ based on your set of values, beliefs, and life experiences. However, one thing holds universal truth: Whoever that person is, there's a high likelihood that you will unquestionably give your best effort to such a leader.
Why? Because of this thing called trust.
Finding a leader you can trust
In all my research and the hundreds of interviews I've conducted with some of the best leaders on the planet, trust is the central pillar that "admirable" leaders stand on. For this discussion, I will boil down what I've observed to three key and rare habits:
1. They ask for feedback.
One of the toughest tests for the top-down, command-and-control boss is to accept feedback for their leadership performance. It takes humility and the most forgotten leadership skill of active listening to be open to feedback.
Great leaders, on the other hand, ask peers and respected high-performers the tough question: "How am I doing as a leader?" And then they listen. They are interested in receiving honest feedback so they can grow further and serve better. This is a leader you can trust.
2. They serve the team, not themselves.
Sure, every good leader needs to celebrate pulling off seemingly impossible wins. But if you lead with a win-at-all-costs personal agenda, at the expense of the good people around you, you may have already lost respect, created silos, and alienated important people.
The leaders you can trust brainstorm solutions that add value and benefit the whole team, not just those that support their own ego.
3. They listen to others, even those under them.
Top-down bosses driven by their own ego have a hard time detaching from their own inner voices to consider other voices. Leaders you can trust are present and in the moment. They don't need to talk over others to get their point across. The biggest distinction of a leader who serves others versus themselves is the ability to listen. Well, not just "listen." But listen with the intent to remove obstacles from people's path so they can thrive. When such leaders listen intently, they hear peoples' objections, anxieties, and fears. They also hear solutions to problems.
These are examples of leaders for whom most of us would jump out of bed in the morning. And, yes, be having fun in the process of working alongside them.