We have all worked for really bad bosses at least once in our life. My worst boss ever was both clueless, and mean. Not only did she think she was some sort of incredible leader, but in reality, no one trusted her nor liked working for her. She once gave me an assignment that should have taken a month to complete, literally, and said she wanted it in three days.
Man, I hated working for her.
And yet we all have had bosses like that. The ones who schedule you on days you can’t work, who lose important documents, who blame others, who gossip, who are unprepared, who lack social skills, who demand you work late on no notice, and so on.
Bad boss stories might be funny to share at a dinner party or something, but in reality, bad leadership is no joke. Every team needs a leader, every business needs a leader, and if that leader is inadequate then morale suffers, productivity lags, sales stagnate, and the ship becomes rudderless.
So, what makes a good leader? Take this test and see how you do. The key is to be honest with yourself. It does you or your business little good to “cheat;” indeed, if you do, that too is a sign that you are a bad leader.
1. You inspire: The essence of leadership is that you have the ability to enroll other people in your cause, whether that cause is reducing police violence or getting out the vote or producing more sales. And the key to that is your ability to get people to buy into your vision for the group.
2. You have a vision: Needless to say, that you have a place where you want to take your team is key. Where is the promised land? Is that a place you can get others to see?
3. You can create a team: Gandhi couldn’t free India by himself and a business leader cannot scale a business by him or herself either. The key is your ability to put people around you who, as they say, are smarter or better than you. It is that team that gets you to the goal line.
4. You can delegate: Not only must you create a great team, but you have to be able to give them real work that maximizes their skillset. You can’t do it alone and neither can they. Great leaders foster great teams by raising the bar for team members.
5. You are an excellent communicator: You must be, not a fine communicator, or even a good one, but a great one.
6. You must be a good listener. Similarly, for people to buy into a vision for an organization that is bigger than themselves requires that they feel that they are heard and listened to. The best leaders listen.
7. You must be positive: Things will go wrong because things do go wrong. It is the great leader who is able to keep their wits and stay positive. That inspires others to remain true to the cause.
8. You must be emotionally intelligent: People follow people who are honest, thoughtful, compassionate, and intelligent.
Total: You will notice that each trait here is scored equally and that is because all are just about equally important. Not every leader has every one of these traits. But you have to score at least a 6 to be considered a great leader.
© 2018, The Strauss Group