I have been thinking of the leaders I have been associated with over the years. Though they were each one different from the other, as I look back, I see common characteristics, attributes and ways of operating that were quite similar.
1. They were honest. Sometimes painfully so. They told me the truth even when I would have rather received sanitized, homogenized opinions. Even when my feelings were hurt, I knew they were more than likely correct. In fact I cannot think of a time when their observations were not spot on. I may not have liked it, but their truthfulness helped smooth some of my rough edges.
2. They valued everyone. Even when I received their correction, it was never done in a spiteful or hateful way. They always affirmed and encouraged me and told me that I was valuable to the Kingdom.
3. They were people focused. Even the leaders who were introverts understood that people matter. I was taught that decisions are not ends in themselves and we must always consider the impact of a decisiont on people. There were times when the proper decision would be received negatively by some, they understood the consequence and had thought and prayed their way through the decisions. They were ready and able to explain why it was decided and what went into their thinking.
4. They were never defensive. When you are a leader you will be held accountable for your decisions. As a matter of fact, long after you are gone your decisions and their aftermath will remain. This is something I consider when making decisions. On the other hand, leader you are where you are today to do one thing: make decisions! Some are afraid to make decisions because someone will get mad. You must make decisions, make them with much prayer and evaluation and then when you have gathered the facts make a decision. Some of our problems today stem from the fact that no one will make a decision! After having made a decision do not get defensive, be open to the possibility that you may be wrong and may have to correct a few things. But never, ever get defensive.
5. They were willing to suffer the consequences of their decision. I have made decisions over the years that have cost me friendships, and I have had speaking invitations cancelled and there are places where I am not invited because someone did not agree with a decision I made. I learned from some of my early mentors that it is okay. Remember being a leader is not about being liked or popular, it is about doing the right thing and being gracious and kind and never retaliating.
6. They shared the credit. They were always ready to give credit and honor the persons who had helped. They praised people and thanked them for their contributions. I have met a few leaders who out of their insecurities made sure no one else had the limelight and that no one else was given credit. Remember a self-made person is a might small thing to behold. All of us are where we are today because of the grace of God and a lot of help from a lot of people. Honor your team and do it regularly.
7. They delegated. Not only did they delegate, they did not micromanage. Most of us have had someone give us a task and then continually look over our shoulder and in essence manage the project. Yes, we all need to have what we do evaluated, but we need to be given room to be creative and to try. If you have ever been micromanaged by a leader, you will never forget it and I hope you never adopt that style of managing. Micromanaging is one of the surest ways of losing staff and influence.
8. They were encouragers. A good leader has an inspirational quality about them. They must at times deliver bad news but after the news has been given they always remind us that we are people of hope! In a world filled with discouragement a good leader in an encourager! They tell us why we do what we do. These are the kind of leaders that we all desire to be and want to be around. There are leaders who are so inspirational and encouraging that after a few moments in their presence you fill renewed and ready to go. There are those who after a few minutes in their presence you are ready to throw in the towel and quit. The leaders that people appreciate have an encouraging and inspirational quality about thier leadership and thier lives.