Lead Artfully

What makes a good leader?

June 21, 2021
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what makes a good leader?

So, what does make for a good leader?  Each of us must ask this question if we lead a team, aspire to be in a management role, or run a business.  It surely must be more than personal traits or physical strength, as no two leaders are the same.  And our concept of a good leader has evolved over the last hundred, fifty, or event twenty years, as society has changed.  “What makes for a good leader”, in the twenty-first century differs from the twentieth century.  And it might surprise you it actually relates to management.


What do you spend your time managing?

The old-school company hierarchy put bosses at the top of the pyramid and workers at the bottom.  A hang-over from the industrial revolution, leadership was about directing workers to build widgets, weave fabric, type documents, and maintain output to certain levels.  You managed output by managing people.

These days we are all a lot more educated, and our jobs are generally more skilled.  Automation and artificial intelligence have replaced or are replacing the menial production-line tasks.  When hiring experienced and skilled staff into a role, the best way to drive them away is micro-managing them.

Ronald Reagan once said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things."

A good leader today manages things, not people.


Leading people and managing things

Also, see our article on the differences between leadership and management, located here.

Simon Sinek says, “a good leader makes people feel safe”.

In other words, today’s great leaders care for their team and take care of their needs.  These needs become the “things” they need to manage.  They communicate the vision, articulating the requirements.  But they also trust the individuals to achieve the required tasks.  For that, a good leader needs compassion, empathy, great communication skills, and a mindset focused on being present with the team.   If a leader trusts the team, the team will trust the leader.



Also, see our related articles:

Servant leadership and how organisations benefit, located here.

Building trust with remote teams, located here.

The differences between leadership and management, located here.