If you glance at people’s profiles on Twitter and Linkedin you’ll notice how many people are describing themselves as “Leaders”, or giving themselves even more specific labels such as “Thought Leader” or “Change Leader”. It’s a relatively new trend, and it seems to be becoming more prevalent regardless of industry sector, There are people working in commercial companies, statutory services and the third sector all perceiving themselves as Leaders, but what does it actually mean?
Yvonne Newbold Leader What is interesting is that these new type of Leaders are not necessarily those who have already reached the top of their game, they are by no means all already established as Captains of Industry or the public sector equivalent. Does that mean anyone can become one?

It’s also indicative of a recent shift in working culture, probably strongly influenced by the way that social media has created a democratic playing field for all of us to exchange ideas and find like minded individuals who share our values, passions and goals. People no longer feel they have to wait a couple of decades building a career and scaling the promotional ladder before they can contribute their ideas and creativity. We don’t feel we have to sit around waiting to be asked our opinion by the people who matter anymore, social media has helped us to all acknowledge a new truth – we all matter.

Yvonne Newbold Leader

The word “leader” traditionally conjures up images of World Leaders such as Barack Omaba, Winston Churchill or Vladamir Putin.Yvonne Newbold LeaderOr even more dramatically, historical bloodthirsty figures who led their troops into battle such as Napoleon, Alexander the Great or Attila the Hun. Until comparatively recently, it was a word which imbued a slight sense of standing proud in a very masculine sort of way, and being revered, obeyed and feared.
Yvonne Newbold LeaderNot anymore. Now Leaders are as likely to be women as well as men, and the best ones look for win/win solutions, and lead with warmth, compassion and humility. So yes, anybody can become a leader now, and we can also define the word in whatever way we think is best. However, calling oneself a leader doesn’t really count unless we have people who are willing to follow, because leadership is always a group activity. Leaders are everywhere at the moment, but good leaders are a much harder to find. So what makes one?

Yvonne Newbold Leader

A good leader is…….

  • Someone who believes in others. Someone who wants to bring out the best in colleagues and associates, someone who will walk beside to listen, to encourage, to empower, to enable and to enthuse. The very best leaders do all they can to help other people shine.
  • Someone who has a clear vision of how to do things differently so that the world becomes a better place.
  • Someone who is able to communicate their vision and ideas clearly and with passion.
  • Someone who is also happy to follow. It gets exhausting to lead all the time, and the best leaders are those who will collaborate with others as equals and align their own ideals with other leaders to gain momentum for change. Someone who understands that together we will always be stronger.
  • Yvonne Newbold Leader
  • Someone who understands that not everyone they share their vision with will get it and want to embrace it first time round. They also understand that that’s OK, that conflict is unnecessary and they will have the magnanimity to agree to differ with graciousness while wishing that person well, before stepping sideways to talk to somebody else.
  • They understand the importance of kindness and concern. They know that making people feel good about themselves is essential, because leading is all about team-building and encouraging ideas, contributions and passion from everyone. They know that nobody has the monopoly on great ideas, and it’s the great ideas that matter regardless of who came up with them.
  • As people they have core personal values of honesty, integrity, humility and authenticity. They also have a well-developed sense of emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal skills.
  • They know that this isn’t about themselves, it’s about the vision and making it happen. They are confident without being ego-centric. Their feet stay on the ground and they remain humble enough to always remember the importance of courtesy and consideration towards others.
  • Yvonne Newbold
  • They have the stamina, the resilience and the tenacity to stay the course, the flexibility, adaptability and open-mindedness to embrace new information and concepts as well as the diligence and professionalism to inspire confidence in others.
  • They are intuitive and imaginative, and are unafraid to follow their instincts, whilst retaining a clear focus on realistic goals.
  • They understand that people will only be inspired by people they like, admire and want to work with.
  • They will know they are on the right tracks when people start to call them inspirational, although will also know not to let the compliments, accolades and congratulations go to their head, because they know that this was a joint effort – and they never forget to thank the people who believed in them enough to follow them too.
  • puzzle-69995_640

Are you a good leader? Maybe that’s a question for others to answer on your behalf. Listen carefully to what they are already saying and you may find that you are. However, never forget that the best leaders are always happy to be followers too.

And what did I forget? I led by writing the article, you very kindly followed by reading it, but everyone’s input can still be included by commenting below. Thank you. 

 

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What makes a Good Leader?
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10 thoughts on “What makes a Good Leader?

    • August 8, 2016 at 1:19 am
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      Thank you Debs, that’s a lovely thing to say and much appreciated. Take care, speak soon xxx

      Reply
  • August 7, 2016 at 11:33 pm
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    Excellent. I’d suggest that all employers use this as part of their selection criteria and interview basis. Imagine if all those who claimed to be leaders had to prove these qualities – a lot less leaders than they thought.

    Reply
    • August 8, 2016 at 1:24 am
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      Thank you Grainne, what a lovely thought! However I hope they are using some of them already because they should be. True leaders know that it’s always about other people, and they also always bring their heart and their soul to all that they do. The good ones really can change the world but like you, I wonder how many there really are?

      Reply
  • August 8, 2016 at 3:08 am
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    What makes a great leader? I knew a lady named Alice Lloyd who came to the Kentucky mountains from Boston, MA during WWI and started a school with 3 students. She helped one to become a doctor, one to be an attorney, and the other to become an architect. She went on to start 115 elementary and high schools in the area. In 1923 she started a college that is now called by her name. She inspired and educated thousands of students to become, doctors, lawyers, engineers, politicians, and teachers. She received no money from the government. All of her money to educate students came through donations. She worked 40 years and never took a salary. To me this is service leadership at its best. From her example, I enjoy mentoring young people, see them succeed in life, and helping people with disabilities to be all they can be.

    Reply
    • August 8, 2016 at 11:31 am
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      What a lovely inspirational story, Bill, thank you for sharing it with us. Thank you too for all that you do for young people who need someone to believe in them. It’s people like you who keep the world turning, and as a parent, I know how much your work must help. Take care Yvonne

      Reply
  • August 17, 2016 at 5:04 am
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    Thank you Yvonne for an article on leadership that had meat on the bones! This one has provided me with a good hearty breakfast.

    I was reflection on the theme of ‘keeping the world turning’:

    I am lucky enough to be on vacation in Thailand with my husband and three adolescent sons. We have had an Intrepid adventure and are now relaxing by the sea in quiet place rich with nature.

    I am using this pause point to ‘decentre’ from my leadership role at work (and as a parent): stepping back, seeing the wood for the trees, reviewing the year, outside looking in. And also, to observe all the layers of the onion, to take a systemic perspective on my little hamster wheel, my microcosm is affected by the bigger picture.

    Thai culture has provided and interesting backdrop for this reflection. Thai culture promotes community, promotes cooperation, promotes humility and gratitude and honours loyalty and respect. These values are observable in every human interaction I have witnessed between and betwix generations. Thai culture has been designed to perpetuate and sustain itself. It is beautiful. It has a history of strong leadership and yet I struggle with another aspect of the culture I have observed, I have read about and I have discussed with Thai peers: traditionally, ‘compromise’ is valued over stating a difference of opinion.

    Without needing to comment on this further in relation to Thailand I am curious to reflect on the balance of culture I am responsible for back home and at work.

    Imagine a pair of Victorian kitchen weighing scales, brass, with two pans and some heavy polished weights. In the right hand pan we have the refreshing beautiful values and behaviours I have observed on holiday here in Thailand, and in the left hand pan we have speaking out, valuing difference, giving a platform to opposing voices. The goal is to balance the pans and to ‘keep the world turning’.

    Have we got the balance right in the West? Is our current leadership in my country (the UK) or in the US heading in the right direction? Is there balance? Is our culture producing good karma or bad right now….?

    Time to step up and take another bite at responsibility pie I think!

    Reply
    • August 19, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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      Oh Melinda, what a wonderful comment. There are so many of us who can clearly see that we are losing our way in the UK, both within the NHS and at Central Government level. What’s really encouraging is that so many of us are coming together through social media and trying to find better ways of doing things. Thailand sounds blissful! I so hope you and your family have the best holiday ever there together, and it does sound like it’s giving you vital thinking space away from the pressures of the day to day grind. I’ve written some other posts I think you might find interesting – I’ll tweet a couple to you over the next few days. Meanwhile enjoy! Best wishes, Yvonne

      Reply
      • August 28, 2016 at 9:49 am
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        Yvonne, don’t forget to tweet me your blogs as above!

        Reply
        • August 31, 2016 at 2:47 pm
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          Hi Melinda, I’m doing it now! It’s been a bit of a week here this week. I’ll tweet you three links, there are dozens more to choose from, but I think you might find these three interesting/useful, two written posts and one video. Hope things are good with you. Best wishes, Yvonne

          Reply

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