“People don’t want to be managed. They do want to be led.” via Cynthia Stewart, Lead Change Group
It seems fitting that the first 2012 U.S. Presidential Debate immediately followed this week’s #TChat session – especially since our discussion focused on what it takes to be a great leader.
Coincidence? Or genius? Actually, we didn’t plan a political connection. Instead, we wanted to showcase a newly launched book, “The Character-Based Leader – Instigating a Leadership Revolution, One Person at a Time,” which was written in part by TalentCulture.com’s very own co-founder, Meghan M. Biro.
However, I can’t resist connecting the Presidential dots. After all, the debate forum is perhaps the most visible litmus test for candidates who hope to lead the free world. It’s an executive-level job interview on a national scale. And the #TChat community knows more than a thing or two about how to attract, retain and develop great talent. So who better to outline America’s leadership requirements than our tribe?
Although we didn’t frame the discussion in political terms, there was plenty of wisdom shared about leadership qualities that matter most – not just for those who aspire to be President, but for anyone who wants to spearhead an organization, team or initiative.
(NOTE: For session highlights directly from the #TChat stream, see the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)
What Does a Good Leader Look Like?
Last week, we offered a framework based on action…
“Leading is learning. Learning is doing. And doing is knowing. So do.”
And this week’s exchange built on that concept…
“We follow people because of who they are, not just what they do.” via Transcend Coaching
But this begs the question – how do we evaluate who leaders really are? What qualities matter most? Meghan Biro’s recent Forbes blog post suggests that we start with 5 core attributes:
- Emotional Intelligence
Of course, other factors can come into play too. There’s no single “right way” to be a leader. Which points to another insightful comment from the stream:
“Good leadership comes in many forms, but is easy to identify…” via Valerie Merahn Simon
This speaks to two factors: consistency and visibility. Good leadership is as unique as the individuals who carry that responsibility. But continuity within an individual leader is mission critical. Otherwise followers risk losing their bearings, especially in fluid, unpredictable environments. Second, leaders must have a high tolerance for transparency – especially in a world that’s digitally connected and socially engaged. Word doesn’t just travel fast these days – it travels at light speed. As high-profile examples have proven in recent years, there are no hiding places for leaders who are less than authentic.
Not to suggest that perfection is the goal. Great leaders aren’t super heroes. They’re human beings. They’re a work in progress. Leaders are vulnerable to missteps, blind spots and lapses in judgment. But it’s how they deal with failure – their own and those around them – that often sets leaders apart.
Do Good Leaders Make a Real Difference?
We can talk endlessly about the benefits of working with leaders who are driven by character. But what does it actually mean for the bottom line?
“Research shows there is a direct connection between employee engagement and retention and long term profits.” via Don Shapiro
We’ve all known examples of those who’ve led through greed, intimidation or even incompetence. But that’s not a sustainable model – especially in workplace ecosystems, where market forces ultimately decide an organization’s fate. Poor leadership jeopardizes immediate performance. Moreover, it has implications for long-term business viability. Consider this recent item from Corporate Responsibility Magazine: “Companies with Bad Reputations Shunned Even by Unemployed Workers.” Ouch.
So, it seems that leading with character is not just a good idea. It is actually good business. Of course, it’s also good governance for nations everywhere. I, for one, hope our nation’s future leaders agree.
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Highlights & What’s Ahead on #TChat
For more insights from the stream, watch the highlight slideshow below.
Did you miss the #TChat preview? Go here.
Also, if you’re a blogger, and this #TChat session inspired you to write about leadership, we’re happy to share your thoughts with others! Just post a link on Twitter (at #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll add it to our archives. There are many voices in the #TChat community – with many ideas worthy of sharing. So let’s capture as many of them as possible!
Yesterday’s session only scratched the surface of the leadership equation. In coming months, we look forward to drilling down, with deeper discussions around sidebar topics that emerged in yesterday’s exchange. Stay tuned!
SPECIAL THANKS to Susan Mazza (@SusanMazza), founder of Random Acts of Leadership and thanks to other co-authors of The Character Based Leader who joined the discussion! Developed as a collaborative effort by the Lead Change Group, this book represents the collective wisdom of 21 professionals who not only talk leadership talk, but have walked the walk across corporate environments. Their ideas and inspiration come from real-world scenarios – and are worthy of our attention.
We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday at 7pmET/4pmPT for another #TChat. Next week’s topic: “HR Moving at the Speed of Business.” Look for the Preview next Monday via @TalentCulture and #TChat. Enjoy your weekend!
#TChat INSIGHTS Slide Show: The Character Based Leader
by Sean Charles (@SocialMediaSean)