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Leadership is not about having an impressive job title or a spacious office. It's your behavior -- what you do as a leader -- that counts. The things that good leaders do have been identified and written about in scholarly papers and management articles, But it's no good thinking that you can just follow these lists and become a leader. Good leaders display certain behaviors because the behaviors are consistent with their personal values.
Good leaders value honesty, in themselves and others. They tell the truth, whether it's about a staffer's performance, how the business is going, or what everyone needs to do to accomplish the organization's goals. Telling the truth about problems and concerns makes it possible for challenges to be addressed rather than avoided. It also creates trust, which is a vital ingredient of successful leadership.
"Respect" is often identified as a core organizational value, but it is an important personal value, too. Leaders who have respect for people are good at listening and communicating. They nurture diverse, enriching workplace environments. They are more able to motivate and inspire others through delegation and empowerment. Leaders who have respect for others naturally model collaborative behavior and are able to resolve conflict.
In his seminal book, "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't," Jim Collins examined companies that went from good to great and explored what made them different. One of the characteristics that they all had in common was that they had leaders who direct their egos away from themselves to the larger goal of leading their companies to greatness. This humility meant that they were open to other ideas. They were able to consider the possibility that they were sometimes wrong and that helped them to find other, better solutions.
Great leaders earn the loyalty of their employees because they, too, believe in loyalty. They give credit to others and never forget that they are part of a team. If someone makes a mistake, leaders talk about it honestly, but privately. They include everyone in the organization's success, recognizing that even the routine jobs carried out by people in the lower levels of the organization are important.
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