Leadership – What makes a great leader?

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Leadership is something that I am really passionate about – and reading articles to help me to be a better leader is hugely important and I just read an article on LinkedIn entitled Great Leadership Starts and Ends with This which really resonated with me.

The Best Leadership Advice EverI was struggling to engage the audience. Okay, forget struggling — I was dying onstage. Maybe I was having an off day. Maybe they were having an off day.

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In short, Jeff Haden (the article’s writer) was talking in front of a number of CEOs and senior managers and out of the blue asked them what makes a great leader.

Not expecting any response from them, one of the CEOs chirped up with No one cares how much you know until they first know how much you care about them.

He went on to explain that you can convey to employees what the company strategy, vision and goals are and they might care for a short period of time, but they will then go back to what they normally do. It doesn’t resonate with them and doesn’t necessarily change their behaviours.

Only when a leader demonstrates their passion and how much they care about their employees will it really make a difference. He went on to say:

“We can try to communicate and engage and connect all we want but no one really listens. They just smile and nod and go back to doing their jobs the way they always do.

“Our employees don’t really care about what we want them to do until they know how much we care about them. When employees know — truly know — that you care about them, then they will care about you. And when they know you care, then they will listen to you… and then they will do anything for you.”

This really resonated with me. I have had a few different managers in my time and by far the best one was the one who cared about me and my career. Others who have either just barked orders or dictated what needed to be done and how didn’t inspire me or motivate me.

A great leader trusts their employees

It was under this manager who cared that I really progressed through the company. I completely bought into his strategy, which in turn allowed my team to buy into it as well. I learned that you need to nurture a good working environment and build up a level of trust to really engage with your employees and for them to engage with the business.

This really is the only other point I would make on this. Not only does a great leader care about their employees, they also trust them. Great employees are able to make decisions, try new things, feel comfortable to fail and learn from their mistakes.

My recipe: Great leaders create great employees which in turn makes these leaders even better – repeat.

I know that there is a lot more to it than this, but I felt that this article was worth highlighting as it gave a slightly different, tangible and achievable example of great leadership.

Mike Dixon

Author: Mike Dixon

Mike is a Senior Director with 16 years’ worth of digital experience across data, digital analytics, advertising / marketing technology, product management, project management, leadership, coaching, mentoring and team building. Mike consults with large companies so that they better understand the opportunities that data and technology can unlock and works with senior executives ensuring that this is at the core of their business and decision making processes. Mike has also created, developed and delivered award winning propositions across all digital platforms – desktop, mobile, tablet and Digital TV - utilising strong business, technical, analytical, product and project management experience.

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