The Leadership Thing

There is a continuing dialogue about what constitutes good leadership traits. I have always felt that a good leader motivates their team to do good things because they want to, not because they are told to. Maybe the best way to review the difference between a good leader and a bad one is to review some of the major differences.

A good leader develops the members of his/her team, as opposed to one who just uses people. They do this by generating enthusiasm, not by inspiring fear. They are more like coaches or mentors, than slave drivers. They do this by showing how best to accomplish a task, not by insinuating how it’s done.

Good leaders exude goodwill as opposed to flaunting authority. They include the team and say that “we” are going to get it done, rather than claiming that “they” are going to get it done. They accomplish this in many cases by asking for advice from their team in getting a task done, rather than “commanding” that this is the way to get it done.

Another trait of a good leader is giving credit to their team or individuals for accomplishing a task. A not so good counterpart, typically takes credit for their team’s accomplishments. When there is a problem a good leader sets out to fix the problem with a “let’s get it done” attitude, whereas a poor leader is quick to place the blame on the team or individual for the problem, and distance themselves from any involvement.

The leader of any organization sets the tone for “how we are going to serve our customers in the best ways possible.” And promotes the customer centric team approach in everything the company does. Good leaders “walk the talk”.

The difference between an inspirational leader and a dictator is reflected in the culture of the organization and the image that the company has in the marketplace. Every year Fortune ranks the best companies in respective industries and those who are at the top year-in and year-out are a reflection of their leaders. It’s amazing that the leaders of those companies at the bottom or not even on the list – don’t even get it!


Robert M. Donnelly is the author of: Guidebook to Planning - A Common Sense Approach, an educator: Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Saint Peter's University, and a brand builder and marketing expert. His new book: Personal Brand Planning for life is a guide for anyone w...

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