What does good leadership look like?

24 June 2019, 08:00 am
Speciality Bites by Paul Hargreaves

With the Tory leadership race now down to the last two and campaigning in full swing, I thought I would look at leadership this week.

You can then judge whether any of these characteristics are evident in either of these two men.  Most of us won’t have any say in the result and it is very strange to me that the members of a party who do not have a majority within the house of Parliament get to choose our new Prime Minister, but that’s another debate.

I have thought much about leadership over the past couple of years and include a couple of chapters on it within my book, Forces for Good.  I am concerned that there is very little true leadership around these days with many leaders, both male and female, operating very masculine leadership styles, which are outdated and ineffective.  I may come back to that another time as I am working on some material at present, based on the premise that the “leadership for the 21st century is feminine” and will share that at some point.

But reflecting on what makes a good leader I have come up with four key characteristics.  Number one is humility.  Good leaders do not need the position for their own self-esteem and are always aware of their failings.  Just think back to the great leaders of history, many of them were and are extremely humble men and women.  They consider their exceptional achievements unremarkable and often credit others for their success.  How many leaders do you know are like this?

Secondly, the ability to collaborate.  Most great leaders are good at collaboration and have a well-developed leadership team and don’t try and do everything themselves.  This is actually a feminine collaboration – women are much better at working together than men, who generally need to learn a thing or two about this.  Connected to collaboration, our third characteristic is trust.  Do not apply for a leadership position unless you trust others even if this means they will make the occasional mistake.  Trusting others and full delegation are an essential part of good leadership.  Those who are always checking up on their teams are not fully developed leaders.

Finally, our fourth characteristic is self-sacrifice.  Looking back at those people name as great leaders of the past few hundred years, they have all given up a huge amount for their cause.  They haven’t amassed riches at the expense of others but have lived for their cause with great personal suffering.  Consider Florence Nightingale, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther-King.  The lengths they went to in order to lead their people to a different place was incredible and we would do well to follow their example.

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