A leader’s fairness will most likely show up when he or she is alone with someone else, talk- ing about a third party who isn’t there. Will they represent the facts accurately? Will they provide an appropriate benefit of the doubt? Are they free from bias and dishonesty? Impartial and unprejudiced might be the best ways to describe a leader who is fair.
I’ve noted elsewhere that curiosity and gratefulness are high up on the list of characteristics I’m looking for in a leader. Gratefulness puts things in perspective because, first off, there’s no false pride that something has really be earned. Grateful people understand that luck and circumstances are part of success, and they don’t get too full of themselves.
What sort of list would this be if we were describing a leader and didn’t include honest? And how could you work well for someone you didn’t trust and respect? It’s impossible. The last thing you need is a leader who says different things to different people, either because they’re afraid of conflict or because they are trying to amass power.
Great leaders are hopeful, even when they know all the facts about the circumstances. That’s not to say they’re optimistic, which usually means that they’re just living in denial. Hopefulness is a founded belief in success. Follow the reasonable plan and find predictable results at the conclusion.
Accepting of a Minority Position
The group, however you define that, is often wrong. The supposed safety in numbers is elusive. In fact, nearly every moment of truth in the collective knowledge of a civilization has been character- ized by a very small minority arguing their point until the masses climb aboard the idea. This means that a leader will often look wrong to the majority of those that he or she manages, and they will have to be comfortable with that position in the minority. Caution is called for, of course, because being in the minority doesn’t mean you’re right, either!
Merciful from Significant Personal Failure
Leaders are flawed, and they know it. They are plagued by some consistently surfacing weakness and/or some significant failure in the past. Maybe they’ve been fired, had personal financial difficulties, or were at the helm of a department that failed spectacularly. In any case, their personal failures haunt them to some extent, keeping them humble and merciful.
Pattern Matcher/Critical Thinker
The essence of intelligence is the ability to notice and categorize patterns. Leaders have that critical thinking skill and use it to analyze business problems. They see the possibilities and the out- comes like few others do, and therefore can set an appropriate course of action. This will only happen, though, if the leader has the courage to focus his or her business so that similar problems can surface and be recognized as patterns. Serial entrepreneurs who dabble everything are always starting over, and they just don’t ever get to the point where they do one or two things really, really well.
David Baker speaks to, writes for, and consults with the marketing industry via ReCourses, Inc. He’s worked with more than 600 firms individually and thousands of people have been through Recourses seminars.
David owns RockBench Publishing Corp., a traditional and electronic publisher of thought leadership content through which he’s authored and published “Managing (Right) for the First Time”, available via Amazon; and “Financial Management of a Marketing Firm”, available at ReCourses.