Leadership Quality

Successful leadership

What makes a great leader?

SOME of what it takes is what it takes in general to be successful, some not- here’s a short list of mine.

·     Learning head and heart and soul

·     Engagement

·     Visionary and Influencer

·     Aspects of different kinds of leadership used at different points with different situations and people

A good leader is open and ready to learn, for oneself - and as a model

Yesterday I gave a talk in a small business on learning and what the MD said before I started was key: “I have had coaches and supervisors to grow and learn; you should consider the opportunity for yourselves.”  She even said there were funds budgeted in the employees’ further education budgets for such activities.  What a model!

A successful leader values and encourages employee engagement

In Switzerland, the average percentage of engaged employees is less than 15%, according to Gallup.  This is extremely low, but in line with the DACH region.

Leadership is usually seen as visionary and influencing in a positive way

Not only is engagement important, but how the leader shares the vision, and encourages the employees is very key.  It can be a deal maker – or breaker – as to whether an engaged employee stays or goes.

A successful leader knows how to use various roles to bring about success

Robert E Quinn has a “Competing Values Framework” that can be helpful for measuring your leadership skills for the roles needed: team builder/facilitator, mentor, innovator/pioneer, broker/networker, director (of strategy), producer, controller and coordinator.  All of these roles have skills to develop and use as a leader, and when necessary, to develop and encourage in the upcoming leadership under you.

So, what do you need, what can you do, where is there some potential for growth?

One more set of ideas:

I recently read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill and in which I have found some real gems.  One is his list for being a good leader- here is my interpretation: 


All good leaders have to have courage because they are making decisions not only for themselves but for their employees, or whoever they lead.  This is a big responsibility and takes courage.  This courage is based on self-knowledge and self-confidence.


Not only must courage, but also self-control must be part of the leader’s make up. Self-indulgence cannot be tolerated. Instead, emotions and whims should be kept under control so as to lead and reach goals.  Hill says that if a leader cannot control him or herself, s/he cannot control other people.  Wise words, indeed!

3-Keen sense of justice

A leader must not only be just but value justice on a whole, so the organization can survive and thrive.  The best organizations run on a platform of fairness, truth, and justice.  With these kinds of values, the people in the organization will respect the leaders.  Without such values, the employees will look on the leadership with cynicism and disgust.

4-Makes and keeps decisions

A leader should be able to make (good) decisions and then stick to them so that the followers feel safe in the direction of the organization.  There needs to be a security that those “at the top” know what they are doing and where they are going.  

5-Keeps to a well thought-out plan

The plan is based on the abilities of the organization, on metrics, on market demands and constraints and not on guess-work.  There needs to be estimates, but good ones, not just guesses.  Then it will be a good plan.  The ship “needs a rudder”, as Hill says.

6-Doing more than required

A leader leads by model, and when one expects a lot from those following, one should do even more than they do.  The leader must do more that s/he requires of his or her followers.  Period.

7-Personable and cooperative

A good leader has soft skills and is able to lead in a cooperative style, and not just like an army general.  Gone are the days of total top-down powerful heads.  For the followers to respect leaders those softs skills, laced with integrity, will go a long way.  Hill says, “Leadership calls for power, and power calls for cooperation.”

8-Empathy- and good communication skills, in general

Empathy is not sympathy.  Empathy feels with and is on eye level with the other person.  Sympathy feels sorry for and puts oneself in a place of being superior to the other person.  Thus, all leaders should lead with empathy.  Also, Hill does not address this, but good communication skills are very important for today’s successful leader.

9-Mastery of the details of the particular leadership post

Every kind of leadership has its particulars and they should be learned and mastered to be successful at that job.  Of course, if there is an option, it could be that the leader finds help with certain details that are not in his or her “skill set”.  But in general, this is the key to being successful: learning the details and doing them correctly.

10-The buck actually stops here

The good leader accepts the responsibility that the decisions and actions of the company, of the division, of the team, of the group lie in her of his jurisdiction. The buck does stop here, with the leader.  The successful leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and short-comings of his followers.”  A good leader accepts and owns that responsibility.

Of course there are many other traits and sills that could be mentioned, but here are some good ones to start with.  And you can’t go wrong with them.

Again I ask you, what do you need, what can you do, where is there some potential for growth? Perhaps coaching or supervision could help you be a better leader. As the MD said yesterday, “there is always room for improvement.” Contact me, if you are interested.

Enjoy your week and I wish you much success!  Should you want to join my group on LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7041402

Have a great week!

Patricia Jehle