A Leader’s Glossary

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No one can dispute the challenges we face caused by the disruption of Covid-19. The impact of the novel coronavirus continues to reverberate across the globe, demanding unprecedented qualities of leadership.

There has never been a time where more has been asked of us. Nor has there ever been a time where our clients, customers and communities have needed us more. Strong leadership is needed now more than ever. 

There are opportunities for each of us to practice great leadership every day. Especially in times like these. To do that it's important to understand at least some of the important factors that make a strong leader. 

I’ve built a glossary of leadership terms to help facilitate that understanding. These words help paint a picture of what effective leadership looks like. 

The first of those is integrity. It comes from the Latin “integer” and is generally accepted to mean intact or whole. It means being true to yourself. Your values and principles.

Another is genuine. Great leaders are authentic. They are consistently who and what they appear to be. Great leaders are transparent. There is no hidden agenda. Their words and actions match. 

Effective leaders understand there is a difference between interest and involvement. And, while they are likely to demonstrate a genuine interest in their constituencies, they realize appearing interested is not enough. To be truly effective, they must take the next step and get involved. Involved with their teams. Involved with their constituencies, organizations, families, clans and tribes. 

There are other words in a leader’s glossary that are uniquely appropriate to a discussion like this. Words like focus. It's critically important for great leaders to remain focused on the task at hand. However, that focus is most essential within the context of the leader’s vision

That vision of a better future is critical and depends on a leader’s willingness and ability to communicate. And, the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and often cannot be overemphasized. 

That kind of candor requires a level of self-awareness only the best leaders share. A kind of self-awareness that allows you— as a leader—to understand and accept your strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Great leaders understand the people they are trying to lead are watching what they do as much as they are listening to what they say.

Because everything around us appears to be in a constant state of flux, leaders must be flexible and adaptable. They must be agile as well. Exhibiting the ability to be able to move and move quickly. 

Leaders must be resolute. They will need to make hard choices without questioning the decisions they’ve had to make once they’ve been made.

The best leaders demonstrate empathy in everything they do. They are able to walk in the shoes of those they seek to lead. A sense of historical perspective is needed, as well. The ability to use the lessons of the past to navigate the waters of a treacherous future in order to convince those you seek to lead that things will get better because they always have.  

That means leaders must be optimistic. And, that if you’re going to lead, you’re going to need a bit of imagination to go along with that optimism in order to succeed. 

Leaders need to exercise a fair amount of self-control as well. People will not allow you to influence or control their actions unless you are able to show them you can control your own. 

This points toward a fair amount of relationship management. I don't mean micromanaging behavior. I mean managing relationships in order to elicit the active and voluntary participation of those you seek to lead. 

You must be creative in the solutions you come up with. You have to recognize the participation, hard work, effort, and willingness of those who choose to follow. And, then, demonstrate your appreciation in ways that are both tangible and public. 

There is one more word in the glossary worthy of consideration and that word is hope. Great leaders live with an unshakable certainty things will get better. And, the knowledge they can help create that better future.

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