I have been given a lot of thought to Leadership lately. I have been placing special emphasis on the things I personally look for in Leaders. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone I report to, or someone that reports to me. Coincidently, my biggest observations about leadership in corporate America is that we too often align leadership with an individuals position, and as those in those positions we rely too heavily on that assigned leadership. We get lazy.
Leadership is servitude, and we’re here for our teams, not ourselves.
Assigned vs Emergent Leadership
By definition, the most senior person does have something known as assigned leadership. To me, this is the weakest form of leadership. You are a leader because you are the most senior position in your team, group, company. Does it work? Sure. But I challenge you to focus more on what is known as emergent leadership.
Unlike assigned leadership, emergent leadership emerges over time. What I like most about emergent leadership is that your leadership is not imposed on you by your position, but rather by your team.
For some of us, assigned leadership is inevitable; we hold the rank with which brings a certain level of leadership expectation and power. But to be able to combine assigned leadership with emergent leadership, to be able to inspire and instill trust in your team so much so that they follow you not because they have to, but because they want to. That is the real magic. That is true leadership.
Behavioral Attributes of Leadership
During this period of introspection I started to ask myself what I look for in a leader. I started by focusing on those leaders I interact with daily. Both those that have assigned leadership, but also those that demonstrate emergent leadership. Leadership is everywhere.
I came up with a list of behavioral attributes that I most admire, attributes that I don’t necessarily excel at, but those that I find myself personally striving to emulate.
- They recognize that being a leader is an honor and leaderships is about servitude;
- They check ego’s at the door;
- They give trust in order to earn it;
- They have two ears and one mouth, and they use it proportionally;
- They measure against the “what” not the “how”;
- They are not afraid to ask questions or admit they don’t know;
- They don’t know everything;
- They see potential in their people often before they see it themselves;
- They constantly build their teams, help them grow;
- They are decisive but not too proud to recognize a mistake and not too proud to course correct;
- They inspire confidence in their people;
- They can articulate a future that people can buy into;
- They demonstrate their beliefs not in the words they use but in the actions they take;
- They are questionably optimistic;
- They are not afraid to take chances or question the status quo;
- They are not afraid to speak their mind or ask the tough questions;
- They are not afraid to fail or take risks;
- They are idealist when it comes to the future, pragmatist when it comes to execution and realist on the outcomes;
- They are constant learners;
Let me know what you think of these behavior attributes.
- What do you look for in your leaders?
- What leadership behaviors do you admire and aspire to?