The Model Leader

by Robert Driscoll on April 28, 2010

In its simplest term, a leader is someone who people choose to follow.  They influence others to do things and there is a difference between managing people and leading people.  There are certain characteristics that make someone a model leader, which I will list below, but we don’t need to have all of them.  If you have a good understanding of most of these characteristics, you can become a model leader.

Operate with honesty and integrity.  This is the most important characteristic and the foundation for a model leader.  People who work for you need to trust you and should want to work with you.   Without this foundation, everything else is irrelevant.

Execute efficiently.  You need to know how to formulate a plan and put measures around your plan.  You have to be able to take data and measure your plan and understand why you accomplished it or know what went wrong.

Demonstrate financial savvy.  It is imperative as a business leader to understand profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements.  In business, this is how we keep score.  More importantly, as a model leader, you need to know how to explain these statements to others.  If you don’t understand them, you can’t be effective in business.

Strive to optimize the end-to-end value chain.  A leader needs to develop and nurture not only the people in their organization, but partner organizations who can contribute to your organizations success.  While you need to have a team with your same values, inside and outside of your organization, you need to continually work to make them better.

Develop and nurture the organization.  As one moves up the corporate ladder, this area becomes more important.  It is important to not lose sight of what your front line employees do.  Spend time working directly with your teams and help them grow and prosper.  This in turn will help you grow and prosper.  As a leader, you need to be focused on making sure you have the right people in the right positions while helping them develop the right skill sets to help them prosper and grow.

Think independently and critically. Don’t just be a “yes” person, but don’t  always get in to fights with your colleagues.  Pick your battles and when your views differ, have data to back it up.

Practice situational leadership. Know and understand your dominant leadership style but also pay attention to the situation at hand and be able to effectively articulate what you need.  You might need to be able to act in a manner that is uncomfortable for you but is necessary to get the job done.

Communicate effectively.  Make sure that your message is clear so that it’s not misunderstood.  The last thing you want is to have the task not completely correctly.  Take your time.

Like what you do. If you don’t, then think about where you can be more effective.  Be up to the challenges that you are faced with in your job every day.  Be excited about it.  Negative energy spreads quickly.  Be positive and like what you do, otherwise move on.

The marketplace is always changing which requires you to constantly adapt.  As you work on improving these characteristics, before you know it, you will stop being a manager and will become a model leader.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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