Dave’s Top 5 List: Traits of a Great Leader (as viewed through my lens)

 In Career, Communication, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Personal Development, Professional Development, TOP 5

I can’t believe that I am wading into this morass.
There must be a million articles and books out there on the topic.
Who wants to read another blog on leadership, especially one by little old ME.
Who died and made ME an SME (subject matter expert) and scholar on the topic 🙂
Where did I get all my wisdom from on this topic?
True, I am chronologically older than many but am I wiser?
And besides, when it comes to blogging, I am still new at this. I still have my training wheels on 🙂

I am not even sure how leadership applies to me now.
Remember these blogs are my top 5 lists. How things appear to ME, as seen through my lens.
I am now working for myself. Sole practitioner, CEO, Chairperson of the Board, Entrepreneur.
Who do I have to lead? Myself? (a challenge in itself. Ever tried to lead an entrepreneur? J but that is the topic for another blog).

I picked this topic a while ago because I want my blogs to be inclusive of the types of issues, challenges and enablers that I cover with my clients.
The topics are meant to cover both the personal and professional sides of the equation.
My first blog was on defining one’s dream job which I mapped to the Career Quadrant of topics.
A dream job would also apply to the Business Quadrant if one is an entrepreneur.

My second blog on “How I lost close to 100 pounds of fat”, was more related to my ME quadrant but it also rubbed off on my family and Friends Quadrant and probably energized me on the Business front as well.
One can argue that this my third blog, on leadership and leadership skills, can be applied across many quadrants as well, at work, in sports, in school, in the community etc..

When I chose this topic, for some reason, I was thinking of the development of leadership skills later in one’s life, once out in the workforce.
There seems to be so much focus on developing leadership skills when people hit the workplace but is that too late?
What about before then? In the so called formative years.
Who are the role models for our children?
Their Parents? Their Teachers? Their Coaches? Their friends?
What can we all do to better prepare the next generation of leaders (a.k.a. our children)
Who is shaping and instilling the leadership traits into this future generation of business leaders, leaders in our communities, leaders in government and in the non profit sector etc.. ?

Ever been to a sporting event that involves your kids.
The screaming and yelling of the parents and coaches, booing the other players, admonishing their own team, their own kids.
Fist fights among the parents and coaches.
Someone told me recently that they had witnessed a pushing match between parents on the same team.
Another parent mentioned that he had witnessed parents cheering when a goalie was removed from the game after allowing too many goals.
Wow what great role models?
At a recent 45 minute meeting between the parents and coaches of one my children’s sports teams there was all kinds of talk about technical skill development, not one mention of developing leadership skills.
Do technical skills trump leadership skills in sports? I am not so sure.
Look at those professional sports teams that have assembled a roster of highly paid super players only to bow out in the first round of the playoffs.
What about the teachers who tell their students that they will grow up to be losers if they don’t get straight A’s.
Are these the role models that we are relying on to develop our future leaders?
No wonder there is a lack of leaders.

What about those who want to be followers? Is there not a place for them as well?
Is that not a role that better suits some people?
Is there a requirement for many of us to alternate between the role of leader and follower at times depending on the situation and circumstances?
If that is the case, should we not be developing both our leader and follower skills?
Could you imagine the conversation at the breakfast table regarding the discussion on the future focus of our children?
“Johnny and Georgette, Mom and Dad love you very much and would like to support you in becoming a follower as you have expressed an interest in, but darlings, the world needs more leaders, and leaders live happier lives and you can have a six figure salary, so f*ck the follower stuff and get with the program. It is leadership or bust. And stop eating with your mouths open”.

Oh well, so much for separating leadership traits and development into nice little silos.
If this is any indication, looks like my blog topics might cut across topics and ideas.
This could get messy.
O.k. I am confusing things. Come on Dave. Let’s focus now.
Back to leadership traits.

What angle should I focus on?
Leadership styles. Models, methodologies, frameworks, programs etc..?
As it applies in a corporation, non profits, health care, teams, etc..?

O.k. Sounds like time for a google search

  • The Gap: According to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015 Study, leadership remains a perennial issue for companies. Only culture and engagement ranked higher in importance. Companies are struggling to develop leaders at all levels and are investing in new and accelerated leadership models. Based on some of my preliminary reading and observations leadership is also something that is often lacking in sports, among the managers, coaches players and parents. Many believe that the same formula in the workplace applies to sports. The good news is, as the great head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi once said “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”  It’s not easy to be an effective leader, it takes hard work to gain the confidence of the team and understand the motivational dynamics of each player.
  • Leadership models: Google “leadership models” and you can spend the rest of your life going through the results, articles, books, blogs etc.. I will stick to the first page of my search. One of the articles provided a nice little inventory of what it called “leadership theories”. There were 6 of them. Wikipedia was highlighting a “three levels of leadership model”. There was mention of a situational model as well. A quick peek at the leadership books at Indigo got me even more confused. I think I will add finding a “leadership 101 primer” to my wish list 🙂
  • Leadership styles: Before we get to the leadership traits, let’s explore styles. I came across an article that outlined 6 different styles as identified by Daniel Goleman in his “Leadership That Gets Results” study. Here is the link http://www.fastcompany.com/1838481/6-leadership-styles-and-when-you-should-use-them . Here are the six styles.
    1. The pacesetting leader expects and models excellence and self-direction.
    2. The authoritative leader mobilizes the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the means up to each individual.
    3. The affiliative leader works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of bonding and belonging to the organization.
    4. The coaching leader develops people for the future. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Try this.”
    5. The coercive leader demands immediate compliance. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do what I tell you.
    6. The democratic leader builds consensus through participation. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “What do you think?
  • Leadership Traits: Again, there is no shortage of lists of leadership traits floating around the internet. I had come across one a while ago with 22 traits. It now adorns one of the walls in my office. There are 22 of them. I have listed them below. I am open to exploring others but for now that is the list that I will use to choose my Top 5.
  • Values: Values often come into play when shaping most things in our lives so I am hypothesizing that they will also influence one’s selection of a preferred leadership style(s) and traits. To that end I will take a quick peek at my top 5 core values as part of selecting my Top 5 Leadership traits.

Here is the list of the 22 leadership traits (In alphabetical order) that I will choose my top 5 from.
I challenge each of YOU to do the same (and feel free to share them if the urge should strike)

  1. Accountability
  2. Authenticity
  3. Communication
  4. Confidence
  5. Decisiveness
  6. Empowerment
  7. Focus
  8. Generosity
  9. Innovation
  10. Insightfulness
  11. Inspiration
  12. Integrity
  13. Open mindedness
  14. Passion
  15. Patience
  16. Persistence
  17. Positivity
  18. Reasonableness
  19. Restlessness
  20. Stoicism
  21. Transparency
  22. Wonkiness

One more list for me to consider as I select my top 5 leadership traits, MY top 5 values (a.k.a. my anchors, my life compass, my GPS, input to my decision making criteria, etc….)

  1. Family (and friends which includes many of my clients and colleagues)
  2. Trust
  3. Honour (there is strength in honour so I get a 2 for 1 on this one 🙂 )
  4. Compassion
  5. Courage

So without further ado, here is MY take on the top 5 traits that make a great leader

  1. Inspiration (It all starts here as far as I am concerned, in my case I try and inspire with my passion for what I do)
  2. Communication (this one might come in handy if we want folks to head in the same direction and align to the same vision and goals)
  3. Integrity (who wants to follow someone who does not “walk the talk”)
  4. Empowerment (can someone say control freak? Dictator? My way or the highway? Not sure I want to hitch my wagon to that type of horse. Not exactly an energizing experience, so I like the opposite, which is empowering)
  5. Persistence (if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again)

I struggled with not including accountability in the top 5 but I ended up assuming that the desire and accountability in making the desired change will flow naturally from the other 5.

So, now that I have a better grasp on what leadership is all about, at least trait wise, how am I going to use that information to develop myself into a better leader and inspire others to do the same?
How about a top 4 list?

The Top 4 things that Dave is going to do to take his leadership skills to the next level and hopefully inspire others to do the same, to become both better leaders and followers depending on the role

  1. ME: As previously mentioned, there is a lot out there on the topic. I would probably benefit from a little more education on the topic. Complement my google search with a few good books and/or articles and/or TED talk(s). Suggestions welcome (Hint! Hint! 🙂 )
  1. MY Clients and Contacts: I find that I learn so much by sharing with others. Now that I have my top 5 list, it is time to share it with others and compare and contrast with their list. I am easily influenced so it might lead to a revised list at a later date. I also come away from these interactions with so many insights and ideas. Who knows, I might have to come up with a revised version of this blog 🙂 Run for the hills 🙂 . I have been toying with the idea of developing an interactive virtual learning by doing sessions and leadership could be the topic for an inaugural session.
  1. MY Family: As a parent I have an important role to play in inspiring my children and helping them develop in a way that best prepares them for their life journeys. To that end, I would like to come up with some way to help them explore leadership and followership.  There is a lot of material out there for just this purpose. I need to do a little digging. Again, suggestions from other parents welcome.
  1. MY Community: One of the goals for my practice this year is to create more opportunities to facilitate learning and growth sessions and for opportunities to do more public speaking. I will look for an opportunity to help connect on the leadership front at either my children’s school or one of their sports teams or both.

Oh, and next time I attend one of my son’s or daughter’s soccer games, I am going to applaud for the players on both sides and for all the right reasons and not the wrong ones.

Well. That’s it folks.



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