There are many leaders--in our businesses and in our communities--but only a small fraction of them can be considered truly great. However, there are certain habits that all great leaders share. Learn them, practice them, and adopt them into your daily life, and you, too, will join the best of the best leaders--the truly great leaders.
All leaders must make difficult and timely decisions that are in the best interests of the entire organization. These decisions require a firmness, authority, and finality that will not please everyone. Truly great leaders don't hesitate in such situations. They also know when not to act unilaterally, but instead to foster collaborative decision making.
Great leaders take responsibility for everyone's performance, including their own. They follow up on all outstanding issues, check in on employees, and monitor the effectiveness of their work. When things are going well, they praise. When problems arise, they identify them quickly, seek solutions, and get things back on track.
The very best leaders are confident, and their confidence is contagious. Employees are naturally drawn to them; they seek their advice and feel more confident as a result. When challenged, great leaders don't give in too easily, because they know their ideas, opinions, and strategies are well-informed and the result of much hard work.
Truly great leaders are a source of positive energy in their organizations. They communicate easily with others, they are intrinsically helpful, and they are genuinely concerned for other people's welfare. They always seem to have a solution, and always know what to say to inspire and reassure.
Extraordinary leaders praise in public and address problems in private, with a genuine concern for the people who work for them. The best leaders guide employees through challenges, always on the lookout for solutions to foster the long-term success of the organization. Rather than making things personal when they encounter problems, or assigning blame to individuals, leaders look for constructive solutions and focus on moving forward.
Great leaders are extremely ethical and believe that honesty, effort, and reliability form the foundation of success. They embrace these values so strongly that no employee doubts their integrity for a minute. They are transparent, share information openly, and avoid spin control.
Great leaders inspire their people by painting a vision of a wondrous future, and by doing so, they motivate everyone to give their best all the time. They challenge their people by setting high but attainable standards and expectations, and then give them the support, tools, training, and latitude to pursue those goals and become the best employees they can possibly be.