5 things average managers fear, but good leaders do

These are the virtues ingrained in the DNA of the world's best leaders.

In this social economy, we work in an era in which trust and transparency are the new currencies. You'll find these virtues ingrained in the DNA of the world's best work cultures.

But where does it all start? I posit that it originates with leaders as "caretakers" of the people who make up these wonderful, human-centered organizations.

When you look under the hood, there are certain undeniable attributes that define these leaders in action. These attributes filter down to the frontline employees who, in turn, become inspired to chase a common purpose and produce meaningful work.

In essence, there are traits that separate good leaders from merely average bosses. The former will courageously do things that the latter will fear doing. Here are five.

1. They play for the team.

Managers who take their marching orders and forge ahead with a win-at-all-costs agenda at the benefit of some and expense of many will quickly create silos, alienate people, and lose the respect of the whole. True leaders don't run over people, seek the glory, or take the credit; they empower their people to do all the work, brainstorm solutions that add value and benefit the whole team, and give them all the glory after a great effort.

2. They never violate trust.

Leaders championing an open and transparent company culture will ask daily, "Does my behavior increase trust?" To keep your team psychologically safe and ensure that shared values are held tightly and not violated, trust is a non-negotiable pillar that every person in the organization -- but especially authentic leaders -- should stand on.

3. They believe in their employees.

In a conversation with Rolling Stone magazine at one of the lowest points of his career, Steve Jobs said: "What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them." As Jobs evolved as a leader, he demonstrated increasing faith in his employees and believed in their abilities to use their brains and talents to create and innovate.

4. They focus on building honest relationships.

Anna McMurphy, head of people, culture, and entertainment at SteelHouse, told me a key practice that defines SteelHouse's leadership culture. She said, "If you know your team well, you can help them play to their strengths, allowing them to pursue their intellectual curiosity, which can lead to creative growth on a group level. If you trust in your team, you know they're making the right decisions with the right intentions, and that can lead to wonderful things."

5. They practice "love in action."

The most inspiring leaders are successful (and their companies profitable) because they pump the fear out of the organization and practice "love in action." This counterintuitive approach is not pie in the sky. It can look like trust, belonging, care, respect, inclusion, empathy, and compassion. And feeling validated as a human worker through these love habits can increase loyalty, collaboration, and performance, which gets results! Plain and simple, "love in action" practically demonstrated by human leaders will create the optimal work environment for great human and business outcomes.


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