There are many articles that write about underrated qualities in a great leader. Nearly all of them describe the same qualities; accountability, innovative, subject acumen, or flexibility. I never seem to hear people talk about two characteristics that I’m always looking for in my leaders. Development and diversity are, in my professional and personal opinion, the most underrated character traits in great leaders.
Keep in mind that I am looking at development from a coaching perspective. Great leaders are lifelong learners, and always find ways to inspire their followers to have the same passion for learning. Leaders with this attribute are difficult to find, because their entire clan is keeping up with their pace. They’re able to pinpoint weaknesses in their followers, provide them with development resources, and motivate and inspire them to follow through on the opportunities to grow.
Tony Robbins has a great quote on growth, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
The truth of this is that great leaders find ways to encourage, grow and develop their team members, because they realize they will only get the same results if they don’t progress, change and adapt. While good leaders are trailing behind, motivating their team to develop on their own. Great leaders are tracking the progress of their team’s development, and forecasting to prevent the next hiccup.
Something that I’ve always cherished in an individual on my team, diversity as a characteristic is someone who holds a wide range of experience to provide a, jack of all trades if you will, range of skills, knowledge and abilities. This quality is something that I feel is only view under race, gender and creed. Great leaders are not only teachable but great teachers too, not only good talkers but great listeners, not just good at time management but they’re great under pressure when things don’t go as planned. They have both blue collar and white collar skills, not afraid to get a little dirty if needed, but are also on top of their administrative duties.
In my experience, I’ve only ever met one person who was truly diverse. He showed empathy, but knew exactly when to draw the line. My dad would try his best to learn and master a new skill, but he knew when it was time to delegate. His level of ambition, and integrity, for a project was contagious. It developed a sense of pride, and ownership, for a project within everyone involved.
This type of diversity is the very thing bottom line employees seem to complain about in their managers. The most common complaint: “My boss doesn’t even know what I do.” Being diverse means; you understand the basic duties of the people involved on your team. This allows you to recognize their hard work, while helping to brainstorm through inefficiencies.
I can only hope that by now you understand the importance of being diverse and driving development. These two attributes really do make good leaders great.
Let me know your thoughts or experiences.