Friday, October 22, 2010

Nature or Nurture - what makes a leader?

On LinkedIn the question “what makes a great leader?” was asked … and lots of good and quite some bad answers was provided.
But what indeed makes a good leader? And if you are a good leader in one team/company does it mean that you are a good leader in another team/company ? Is it you or your surroundings … get us back to the age old “nurture or nature”.  My view is that of course it is you who are a great leader but you need to be suited to the culture in the team/company. Of course you can try to swing the culture in the team or even in an entire company – but the bigger the harder it will be. I would compare it to turning and stopping a huge ocean liner – it can be done, but you need to know what to do and it takes a looong time.
As a leader you must stay true to yourself and your values – it is OK to tone some things down and others up – but you lose credibility if you try to pretend liking an idea you hate… be honest about it without dishing the idea.
You need to be consistent and fair in the way you treat your team otherwise nobody will trust you. And if you do not have the teams trust – you have nothing that will even resemble a team.
You need to dig in and do some work as well and your team needs to have different types (some of us do not like the nitty-gritty – but take on some other tasks and make sure you have somebody who likes to do just that – otherwise it will be forgotten and the outcome will probably be less)
Most important you need to maybe not lead the way – but be able to show the team which way they should aim for – in such a way that the team is eager to move ahead.

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