Why is it so difficult to help others succeed?
Bookshelves are loaded with great counsel on leadership and coaching. Blog posts are spilling wisdom at an incredible rate and yet, good leadership still seems to be the exception rather than the rule. For some reason, great leadership is more easily described than displayed. We know it when we see it, but when the bullets start flying, the practice of great leadership gets lost in the chaotic details.
What makes a great leader?
Great leaders keep it simple. They break complex objectives into basic parts and make it easy for their team to understand and simple for them to execute.
- Great leaders help their players be the best they can be. Great leaders know the capabilities of their players and set them up to succeed in their goals and assignments.
- Great leaders push their team members to their limits while acknowledging that mistakes will happen.
- Great leaders anticipate mistakes and help their players learn from them.
- Great leaders remove barriers and run interference.
- Great leaders earn trust by being trustworthy. This means honoring your commitments, maintaining confidences and being honest.
- Great leaders earn respect by being respectful.
- Great leaders balance pride and humility.
- Great leaders secure buy-in by helping team members find the answers rather than giving them the answers.
- Great leaders earn the right to criticize by being constructive and balancing with appropriate praise.
- Great leaders are followed into the fire when their players believe the leader has their best interests at heart.
- Great leaders answer their team members greatest questions: Where are we going? How will we get there?
What’s in it for me?
- Great leaders care enough to expect the best and give their best; every time.
- Great leaders are decisive yet always open to new information
- Great leaders recognize their weaknesses and reinforce them with complementary talents.
- Great leaders share success.
- Great leaders help their players prepare for success.
- Great leaders exude positive energy. They fuel their team.
- Great leaders balance dreams and reality. They help their team members do the same.
And that’s just the beginning. So why is it so difficult? What are the barriers to being a great leader? Alas, we are all only human and so often, it is our “self” that gets in the way. Here are some barriers:
- We believe we can do it best so we don’ t give others the chance.
- We want the recognition and don’t share it.
- We get jealous of the success of others.
- We try to control too tightly. We micromanage and don’t trust our players to do their jobs.
- We use people to get what we want and they know it.
- We are greedy and don’t share the fruits of success.
- We don’t understand our players.
- We don’t look for win/win situations.
- We don’t take the time to care, to listen, to empathize.
- We talk one way but behave in another.
- We push to results without consideration for the cost of the effort.
- We criticize persistently without balancing with praise.
No, this list isn’t comprehensive, but the point is clear. There are many ways for us to fail as leaders, and it is not easy to be a good one, let alone a great one. Being aware of the traits of a great leader and understanding some of the challenges is a good start. Ultimately, great leaders help others succeed, and in the process, they succeed as well.