Leadership – How do you know if you are a great leader?

Leadership is not for everyone, and even some people who are in leadership positions do not belong in this role. Having worked for numerous leaders during the course of my twenty-five years in the business world, I can tell you there is a wide array of leadership types and levels of competency. Fortunately, I have learned something from both the amazing and not so great leaders, but the amazing ones are different from the average leaders based on a number of similar characteristics.

During my professional marketing career, I worked at a combination of both start-up and well established companies (e.g., Constant Contact, EMC/Dell, Hitachi). The start-up company’s leaders were the ones I learned the most from. I attribute this due to the fact these leaders had to be so dynamic and multi-talented with their skill sets. Their multi-faceted skills were what enabled them to navigate and grow the companies in the face of continuous high risk, especially during hyper growth or unknown growth periods when a new product or service was being launched.

In my opinion, the number one skill the best leaders each possessed was their high level of emotional intelligence, also referred to as EQ. To the best of my knowledge, this is not a skill which is taught in business school, and is purely an innate talent. When someone has a high degree of EQ, this does not guarantee they will be a successful leader, but the best ones I worked for leveraged this skill every day in highly demonstrable ways.

Some of the ways the highly successful leaders leveraged their EQ was by being able to easily read people and know how to motivate them. They were also able to get along well with them, regardless of the role they played in the organization. Possessing the ability to provide a crystal-clear vision both verbally and in writing of where and how a company will achieve its goals, is also an essential skill the best leaders I worked for possessed.

The majority of the best leaders also exuded charisma, and were very likeable people. They also earned your respect, and you wanted to follow and do your best work for them. The majority of them were also demanding and had extremely high standards across the board, but they were also fair and non-judgmental. Being open minded was an attribute they all possessed too.

Ironically, not all of the people who I would classify as a leader were in fact leaders. However, they possessed the characteristics and traits associated with successful leaders, and were clearly heading towards being one at some point in their career. I’m sure you can name a few people who fall into this category, and I hope they will be given the opportunity to step into the leadership role they are destined to fill.

A recent and non-business example of a person who is destined to be a leader is a young man I recently worked with who was on a sports team I was the performance and motivation coach for. This young man would be the first person to tell you he was probably the least talented player on the team from a field skill perspective, but this did not truly matter, as his role on the team was more important on the sidelines and in the locker room.  He exhibited all of the characteristics of a leader in the making, and his teammates recognized this at the end of the season and by naming him to be one of the captains of the team during his senior year.

If you think you are a leader in the making, wish to be one someday, or are in fact already a leader, this is one of the most important roles you will play in your professional life. Having worked for some of the best leaders in the world, I encourage you to model your leadership style after well know leaders, regardless of the industry they are in. For developing leaders, or if you are a leader and you have not fully developed the essential characteristics and skills to be a great leader, there is still time to do so.

Please do not delay in developing your leadership skills, as you are doing a disservice to yourself and those you are leading when you do not possess the right or essential leadership skills.

How will you know if you are a great leader? Chances are you have been told you are, and if you have not regularly heard that you are, then you might have some more work to do to get to the great leader designation.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Whisperer whichis available via Amazon.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis.

If you want better results, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.