When I think of the expression dynamic leader, I conjure a number of attributes associated with this person. One of them is having a high emotional intelligence level, or EQ. They are also flexible, strong communicators and listeners, possess empathic qualities, and are passionate about the product or services their company and employees are associated with.
Leaders who are dynamic are also often brilliant strategists, and have peripheral versus tunnel vision on running a business. Additionally, they take a long-term perspective on growth and the development of their teams at all levels, and people genuinely want to follow them.
Most importantly, they are real people who are approachable, and do not take themselves too seriously. Refreshingly they will also admit to making mistakes, and take responsibility for when things are not going well instead of assigning blame. They are also generous with praise, and genuinely care about the people who they are leading and following them.
Have you worked for someone who possesses some, all of or more of these characteristics? I hope you have, as this type of leader isn’t one you will come across many times in your career. Why is a dynamic leader hard to find, and how do they become one? Let’s unpack some of the possibilities about how they developed in their careers to become this way.
In my years of observing and working for a variety of leaders, the leaders who I would classify as dynamic were ones who have actual hands on experience in an entry level position. They also likely worked in a service type of job when they were in their teens or twenties. The valuable lessons they learned in these roles provided the fundamental elements of understanding what it takes to be of service to someone, and to do this humbly and well. In the absence of working in a service role, they missed a critical opportunity to hone their communication skills, apply empathy when required, practice being flexible, and become comfortable with making mistakes and taking ownership for them.
Working in customer service centric roles early on in leaders’ careers also develops a person’s awareness of recognizing when work is done well. It also helps them to become comfortable with expressing praise to others, as they are often praising their peers, or receiving praise from them. They also learn the importance of team dynamics, similar to those that are acquired when someone is on any type of team when they are sub 21 years old.
So, are there questions one can ask to identify if they are in the midst of a dynamic leader? Of course, there are. Here are some you can ask to help ferret out these elusive and extremely valuable type of leaders.
- Tell me about the team you lead. If they are not able to go into great detail about this team, and they don’t appear to be genuinely enthused about their team, chances are they are not a dynamic leader.
- Ask them what their leadership style is. This will reveal volumes, especially if they provide you with a short response. Short responses are not exactly how I would expect a dynamic leader to respond.
- Have them tell you about their journey to the leadership role they are in.
- Ask them about who mentored them as they were coming up the leadership ranks.
- Find out what type of good and bad experiences they have had with their teams.
- Ask them what their communication style is.
- Ask them how they process information. In other words, are they are visual learner, someone who is a verbal or kinesthetic learner?
- Have them share with you when they realized they felt comfortable and confident enough to be a strong leader?
- Find out what were the most influential experiences they had which provided them with the leadership skills they rely upon on a daily basis.
The final question I would ask them is: What does it mean to you to be a leader? This question will also be revealing. If you don’t like what their response is, chances are, they may not be the type of leader you want to work with, for or emulate.
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coach, author of Wisdom Whisperer and Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published in December 2019), and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.
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