What makes a good leader?

what makes a good leader?There is a huge industry that has been built up around leadership but actually, what makes a good leader?
It would seem that the business or enterprise really doesn’t matter because there are traits in the styles of leadership that can be found in all walks of life.
However, I think they have over complicated things.
Having the role of leader can be scary. You may have gone for an interview so have had a job profile to match yourself against. If you’ve been appointed, one presumes that you have matched the requirements needed. However, after some settling-in time,  that industry will try to get you to look at your ‘style’, possibly question it and then change.
To help, there are quizzes and self-assessments that you can take to identify your style among those that there are. There seem to be twelve that are regularly referred to:

  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Strategic
  • Transformational
  • Team
  • Cross-Cultural
  • Facilitative
  • Laissez-faire
  • Transactional
  • Coaching
  • Charismatic
  • Visionary

Looking at that list, I see terms that could be regarded as positive and negative.

relating to a ruler who has absolute power / taking no account of other people’s wishes or opinions; domineering
Laissez-faire: the policy of leaving things to take their own course, without interfering


Democratic: a state of society characterised by formal equality of rights and privileges
Coaching: works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of bonding and belonging to the organization

It really doesn’t matter how you view them. They will all have a place, at some point, in an organisation’s development.
Maybe, we should look at qualities. There are lots of them too. When you took that leadership role, would you say you had all of these?

  • Focus
  • Confidence
  • Integrity
  • Inspiration
  • Passion
  • Decisiveness
  • Communication
  • Accountability

It’s a good list but I’m not sure it applies solely to a leader.
Give them what they want
As I said at the beginning of this piece, I think we can get very confused with so many choices. I went on a two-day course when I was about 3 years into my headship career. Prior to the course, I had to complete various checklists which were to help me identify my leadership style. Like many people I came our as a bit of a mixed bag style-wise but because the school was still vulnerable and fragile, I was probably more autocratic than I would have liked. By the end of my career, having amalgamated two schools and supported other colleagues, my style of being in charged had mellowed.
Keep it simple
To be a leader, you need people. To be an effective leader, you need to begin with the people and what they need. Simply:

  • People need a clear understanding of values, so they can understand the framework by which they make decisions on their own
  • People need clear goals, so they know what they’re working toward
  • People need support, in terms of resources and infrastructure and just basic human needs at an emotional or social level

For those of you who have been brought up on Maslow and his hierachy of needs, you will see some of them in those three bullets.
What sort of a leader are you?
So, if you are a leader, how do you match up to some of these styles, skills and qualities? Are you nervous about becoming a leader as it all seems too much? Do leave a comment below to join the discussion and if you like it here, I’d love you to sign up so you don’t miss anything!
what makes a good leader?

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