What makes a good leader? I can tell you from experience, knowledge, research and observation. Even going back to my pre-Human Resource time, I knew when I was working for a good leader and when I was working for a tool. Yeah that’s a technical HR term for a, uh well tool.
Leadership styles vary and one doesn’t trump the other; it’s subjective to the culture, mission, vision and goal of the company. Style is important but equally important is that the leader understands what is and what isn’t needed. Leaders must be honest when analyzing the current situation, assessing the good, the bad and ugly. They can’t be afraid to admit problems or weaknesses and must be willing to make hiring choices that address those areas. For instance, if you need a leader to be out front, to connect for your brand with the audience, but that’s not strength, as long as they are willing to allow someone else to perform those public relations tasks, it can work. Need an example? How about Trump? That’s a brand; his name is on many products some on which he doesn’t run the daily operations. He licenses his name to many of those products. He is the face and is paid a fee for the privilege.

Here’s my take on leadership, things you need to have:

Vision/Passion – a vision of where you want to take your business. Set a long range goal, and map a plan of action to get there. I included passion here because I believe the leader has to be passionate about the business and its ultimate vision/goal. They’re going to be involved in the process, so then need to be passionate. If they have the passion they’ll care more about the outcome; therefore decisions are made with more thought and insight. The leader may not know exactly how to get to the goal, but must be willing to explore options, ideas and concepts of others to get to the vision.

Belief –The leader has got to believe in the product and the system. By believing in the goal, product and system, they must also believe in the employees that will perform the essential job functions that are designed to achieve the goal. As part of that, the leader can’t be afraid of feedback from the employees, and consider their suggestions, as long as they’re constructive and lead to the end result. If the leader does not believe in the success of the process, the product and goal, why would consumers and investors?

Adaptability – good leaders have to change with the environment, technology, consumer and workforce trends. They have to use technology in ways that give the audience a way to call to action. They have to use new ways to recruit and retain talent. And depending upon the labor force, competition, technology and the economy, they may have to adjust some short term goals. Must adapt!

Attitude and likability are important, ideally you would love to have a leader with a great attitude and very likable. But some very likable people just aren’t good leaders and vice versa.

Connection – The final “thing” a leader must have is the ability to connect to the customer. It’s my observation that this one is the most important. Your leader has to connect with the employees, consumers and product in a way that compels them to support your business. They must either connect directly or facilitate that connection.
For example, Nike’s founder does not connect personally and most consumers of their product probably don’t know his name or what he looks like. He rarely does interviews and makes view television appearances yet, the connection to Nike and the consumer is undeniable. If you don’t know, now you know. Now get connected!

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