There are many great leaders who have led their teams into victory, put out fires, and made the hard choices for the greater good of those they lead. What is it about those leaders that cause others to follow them into battle? What qualities do they possess that cause people to stick with them even in the face of difficulties? There are a few things they each have in common. Here is a list of some of the attributes that win the hearts of those they lead.
A great leader listens. When those who are following take the time to express themselves regarding a matter, it is important to them. As leaders, we become adept at listening with one ear open while checking an email or simply checking the grocery list we are compiling in our mind. To advance from good leadership into great leadership, we must focus all our attention toward the one in front of us. If someone we are in charge of has deemed it necessary enough to bring something to our attention, we ought to honor them enough to be fully present when they are sharing with us.
A great leader picks up the shovel. A good leader can bark out orders and get a job done. They may or not be liked, but they still can be effective leaders. They aren’t there to make friends after all, they are there to accomplish a goal and go home at the end of the day. To step into being a great leader, we must pick up our shovel and dig in the trenches with those we are leading. It does not matter if you are training your toddler at home or heading up a multi-million-dollar company. When you are shoulder with those you are commanding, they will follow you to the ends of the earth. King David is a wonderful example of this kind of leadership (at least in his early days). He led his men, walked with them, ate with them, and even was hungry with them. He showed them what worship looked like in his own life not with a power-point but by modeling it side by side with his mighty men.
A great leader listens to what’s not being said. People will only share so much concerning any matter. A good leader will listen and likely take action based on what was shared. A great leader listens to the unsaid words as well. Jesus often answered a person, not what was being asked, but what wasn’t being asked. He knew the intents of their hearts and dealt with them accordingly. Martha came to Jesus with a complaint about her sister. Jesus did not respond to her sister, but showed Martha that she was worried and troubled. He didn’t chastise either sister. He simply showed Martha that she was under stress and that it really wasn’t about her sister, as she thought.
A great leader becomes a professional profiler. Most of us have watched a television show about detectives profiling evildoers. As stellar leaders we must do the same for those we lead. A good leader knows the name of Harry’s wife and children. To become an astounding leader, one needs to learn what makes Harry tick. What are Harry’s core values? Is safety paramount to him? Or is justice? Is connection what makes him feel his best? There are any number of surveys on the internet to discover value systems. When we as leaders understand those we are entrusted to lead they place their confidence in us. If we take the time to fully know them, people will stick with us through any of life’s storms. Esther took the time to learn the king. She profiled him through listening and patience. When the time was correct, she changed the course of a nation. If we listen and learn those around us, they will inevitably reveal what motivates them. Just as Esther gained favor with the king, we will gain favor with those we lead as we patiently pause and listen.
So many “good” leaders have the potential to become incredible leaders. If you want to be catapulted into the latter category, take some time with those in your charge. All people desire to be fully known and understood.