When I create a resume for a client who’s a senior manager or executive, we talk about two main areas: (1) what he/she has accomplished as a leader; and (2) what the team or organization has achieved under his/her leadership. Why? Because solo performance is seldom, if ever, a true core value proposition at that level.
Apple might have needed Steve Jobs to rejuvenate it and send it soaring as a company again, but he didn’t do it all himself. Winston Churchill encouraged England to hang-tough during the terrible experiences of World War II, but if people hadn’t rallied behind him, believed in him, his encouragement might not have been enough.
What Makes a True Leader?
I’m sure you can find a huge number of definitions of leadership and leaders without much difficulty. However, I suspect they all have some elements or themes in common. For instance, a leader needs to be able to motivate his/her team to achieve challenging goals. It’s also essential to have a clear vision of where the organization needs to go in order to be successful–and what’s needed to get it there.
If you’re the one who’s in that position, you know it’s up to you to set the tone and provide the environment in which your team can grow and thrive. You establish high standards for them to aim for and then ensure that they have the tools they need for the task. You also stand behind them–speak up for them–when they’re unfairly criticized or attacked, even if it means you catch flack for doing so.
Even if you’re not yet in charge of a team or group within a company, you have the opportunity to demonstrate the qualities of a true leader by helping to motivate, inspire, and guide your less-experienced colleagues to achieve their best. You can let them know that what they do matters and is appreciated.
Have you ever worked for a leader like that? What made him/her stand out most in your mind?
I’d be surprised if it wasn’t one of the qualities mentioned above (and included in the graphic). The great thing about this is that while some people might be “born leaders,” you don’t have to be one to become a true leader–a really good, even great, leader. Determination to achieve that level is an excellent beginning.
Leader versus Manager
I’ve seen a number of definitions that distinguish between manager and leader. For example, one list of personality traits for both concepts indicates that leaders have panoramic vision while managers have tunnel vision and that leaders forge vision while managers follow it. However, the article where I found that list also acknowledges that opinions on the subject of manager versus leader vary widely and have done so for many years.
Here’s just one illustration of what some people consider the qualities of a good manager. An impartial evaluation would, I think, conclude that these same qualities might also be part of what makes a good leader. If a team can’t count on its leader for consistent support and fairness, for calmness in the face of a crisis, what kind of leader do they have?
Regardless of which side of this argument you come down on, I believe the underlying idea still holds true: You’re only as good as your team. If you build and motivate a great team, that demonstrates your value as a leader/manager.