Characteristics Of A Good Leader

Basic Business Cents

Are you looking for the latest fad in leadership? You can go back several thousand years in history and find advice that is still pertinent today. The ageless advice is that good leaders must excel in planning, mentoring, and mediating. We need to remind ourselves that there might not be anything new under the sun and learn from history.

Planning: One of the roles of leadership is to identify the aim of the organization and obtain buy-in from the employees so all are enthusiastically going in the same direction. To achieve this acceptance of the aim, the employees need to be involved in creating the action to achieve the aim in the desired time. The leaders then need to provide the adequate methods and materials in the required time to complete the strategic actions. Methods of measuring progress need to be developed followed by regular reviews.

Mentoring: Leader’s roles include helping, training, communicating, encouraging, and counseling. Leaders are the role models who are emulated throughout the organization. Note that following actions are not useful in good management; directing, commanding, blaming, driving, losing one’s temper, and abdicating responsibility, Leaders also provide work processes for the employees that are realistic and effective.

Don’t forget to recognize accomplishments to provide positive feedback to the people. Deming used to say that dogs like a pat on the back, and people do too.

Mediating: Good leaders build teamwork and curtail conflict up, down, and across the organization. This includes between employees and with suppliers, customers, and owners. An example was experienced several years ago. A client and their much larger customer had a relationship that was devoid of trust. The clients would not allow the customer into their plant because they were afraid that their customer would steal their propriety process and manufacture the product themselves. The customer would not allow the client to enter their facility to see how the product was used. A huge problem occurred because the client’s process was not able to meet the customer’s specifications without 100% inspecting and sorting. This was costly and time consuming. The consultant facilitated a meeting with high-level management of both companies and the client bared their soles. A control chart of the manufacturing process was presented that showed what the client’s process could produce 99.7% of the time. The customer said if they can do that and provide a control chart with each shipment, it is good enough and they changed their specifications. As a result, both companies achieved significant cost savings by reducing inspections to a random basis. In addition, both welcomed the other into their facilities and worked as a team to improve and innovate new products.

Do you still think there is nothing new in leadership techniques? Make it personal by looking at your own history. Think about the best leader you have ever had in your career. Were they effective at planning, mentoring, and mediating? What other positive attributes did they have? What would your employees say about you?