Everyone is talking about leadership these days.
So it was not surprising that one LinkedIn user decided to tackle the topic on a recent post. What was surprising was the response it got, with thousands of likes and shares, and close to 600 comments and counting.
His thesis: everyone has the potential to be a leader – and you get there by going inward, not outward.
“Being a leader is not contingent on possessing the traditional, external trappings of corporate power,” wrote Glenn Leibowitz. “To be a leader in today’s uncertain world, and to have impact at work, you don’t need to have a fancy title or big office all to yourself. Nor do you need to have armies of people doing your bidding. I believe that most of us have within us the potential to become leaders. It’s a skill you can develop through deliberate study and practice.”
Leibowitz is the McKinsey Head of Communications for Greater China. With a title like that, he has to know a thing or two about leadership. And sure enough, he was selected by LinkedIn as a Top Voice in Marketing & Social Media for 2015 and 2016.
He writes that seismic upheavals in the workplace – automation, mass lay-offs, outsourcing, Uber/eBay economy, gig economy, artificial intelligence, globalization – have created not only a demand for quality leadership, but the possibility that the next great leader might just be looking at you in the mirror.
“If you want to proactively shape the course of your career and life, you’ll need to take responsibility for your own professional development,” he writes. “Whether you work for someone else, or strike out on your own, you’ll need to adopt the mindsets and behaviors of a leader.”
7 Qualities of a Good Leader
Here are the seven leadership qualities that Leibowitz cites:
- Integrity. “It’s following through on what you say you’ll do, and being someone that others can rely on. It’s holding true to your convictions, and doing what is right, even when nobody is looking.”
- Creativity. “[T]hinking of creative ideas for improving how things should be done, and then sharing them proactively, without worrying that someone will reject them, or even take credit for them.”
- Thinking ahead. “One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received during my career is from a project manager I once worked with. He told me to always be thinking one or two weeks ahead on a project. Anticipate the problems you need to solve, and start solving them before you reach the point on your plan that tells you that you should be solving them.”
- Courage. “[H]aving the guts to speak up and defend yourself or your ideas, even when that makes you the lone man or woman in the room.”
- Treating others as you would hope they treat you. “The most inspiring and successful leaders I know are the ones who treat everyone as people with unique personalities, unique skills, and unique interests. These leaders also recognize that everyone has a personal life beyond the office, and that the hours they spend in the office in service of the company does not define everything that they are. They have wives and husbands and children and elderly parents who rely on them back at home. And the best leaders treat everyone equally, regardless of where someone sits on the corporate pyramid, and regardless of how far up the leader has risen herself.”
- Being a giver. “Share generously of your knowledge, skills, and when needed, time, and don’t always hold the expectation that you’ll get something in return.”
- Having confidence in yourself. “[T]here will always be doubters. But don’t let that hold you back from taking a stand on an issue or taking action to solve a problem. Above all, believe in yourself.”
Sampling of Comments
- Being a leader is also being able to create and maintain an environment that will allow all peers to feel respected and understood.
- One of my favorite quotes: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
- The Canadian military 10 principles of leadership: (1) be proficient, (2) know yourself and seek self-improvement, (3) accept responsibility, (4) lead by good example, (5) provide direction, (6) know and care for your subordinates, (7) develop the potential of your subordinates, (8) make sound and timely decisions, (9) build the team and challenge their abilities, (10) communicate.
- The one that has had the biggest impact on me is “to be known as a giver.” If your team members see that you’re right there alongside them, sacrificing your personal time and interests, to perform a given task or project, then most, I imagine, will respond in kind with a similar level of devotion.
- I don’t agree we are all capable of being leaders. It takes a special sort of person.
- I would add communicating with those who are involved.
- This would also make a great playbook for parenting - I think it’s where it all starts?
- I believe in establishing trust and integrity first in our lives as this will crossover into your daily path.
- It is pretty difficult to teach these traits to a person. The issue is that many people have a hard time recognizing the gap from what you describe and what they possess.
- Don’t wait for opportunities to be offered to you.
- I like how you touched on the “golden rule.” I think being a leader should embody this rule specifically in the area of servanthood. The best leaders are the best servants.
What qualities of leadership would you add to this list?