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Three qualities of a great leader

By Dave Berkus

There are lots of ways to measure a great leader.  Here are three that should resonate with you as leader and with those who follow you.  These qualities are applicable whether you are leading your company or a board, and certainly are aspiration targets for you if you are measuring yourself against the best.

The first quality in a great leader is to have laser focus.  Every organization has limited Small_Biz_Collectionresources, especially money and time. So a leader who is able to focus upon the core needs of the organization, eliminating all the surrounding noise, is one who uses the limited resources available to best effect.  McDonald’s does this by focusing upon good food, delivered quickly.  There are a million examples of great companies and their leaders focusing like a laser on core components of the business and succeeding where others failed because of the inefficient use of limited resources.

[Email readers, continue here…] Second is consistency. It is more than difficult to follow a leader who changes course seemingly without reason, or sets standards that change by day or by whim, or rewards one person or department differently than others.  Inconsistency breeds fear, disillusionment, and discontent among those suffering, following this flaw in leadership.

Third, a great leader establishes goals that lead all to maintaining forward progress.  Stagnant companies lose their best employees, those wanting a challenge and upward mobility in a growth environment.  Forward progress can be felt by all and celebrated as the company reaches new milestones toward its goals.

Measure yourself against these three qualities.  Have the courage to ask a board member or even a direct report to comment on your three measures. Where do you need a bit of work?  Not one of these requires formal education. So there is no excuse for failure to be your best in all three qualities.

  • i agree with Greg Wood’s comment. Well put. We often mistake personal charisma, and sales ability for excellent leadership. I add that having strong values that guide making tough choices that are not always the most popular or understood, but focus on what matters and what makes a difference to our world are also crucial qualities of leadership. Thank you Dave for continuing this dialogue with all of us.

  • Jason Peterson

    Fantastic article. Thanks for the thoughts!

  • Judith Connolly

    Consistent Ethical behavior, focus, goals, and listen! I’ve worked for many ceo’s, chairmen, evp’s, general partners, and presidents for large corporations. Their ethics must be stellar doing business.

  • greg wood

    Good thoughts. Consistency equates to trust/ predictability – not in the sense of being in a rut but in the sense of being transparent in character and philosophy.

    Laser focus I would also describe is strategic. A recent book – Essentialism – defines this characteristic. The ability to say no to opportunities that are good but not strategic.

    I would also mention a good leader must be an initiator. This goes hand in hand with setting goals. Setting them is not enough, there must be action toward those goals and a good leader is the initiator toward that action.

    Good thoughts Dave.

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