While there are no perfect leaders, here are 10 qualities we see time and again in leaders of healthy teams, businesses, and churches.
1) They Invite Feedback
Healthy leaders are able to welcome observation and feedback from those they lead without feeling personally attacked or diminished. Sometimes, leaders are so close to their work that any contrary opinion or view is seen as a slight on their personhood.
Good leaders find constructive ways to stay open and objective about comments from co-workers, clients or congregants. They intentionally create conversations and environments where feedback is safe, encouraged and appreciated.
2) They Develop versus Drive People
Leaders with a tendency to drive or use people are often out of touch with the unhealthy, insatiable appetites of their own ego. The best leaders see those they’re responsible for as persons to be mentored and developed, not disposable commodities to advance their amazing, world changing vision.
When a work culture is too fast paced and numbers driven there will be no time or energy to invest in people much beyond their paycheck.
3) They Install Consistent Protocols and Procedures
Healthy leaders keep the “rules” the same for all parties and they don’t keep changing them or making things up as they go along. When flexibility is needed they invite discussion that includes those affected and they avoid secret deals and arrangements that can cause resentment and conflict.
While change is part of leadership a healthy leader isn’t constantly throwing last minute curve balls expecting everyone to scurry to make something happen. Procedures are clear to everyone. Fairness and consistency are the norm.
4) They use values-based decision-making
Some leaders proudly lead from their gut. They trust their inner compass. It serves them pretty well. But the best leaders combine their gut instincts with a written, guiding ethical core that informs their decisions, determines what things get prioritized and what values they will uphold no matter what.
Initiatives and choices based on well-thought-out values help streamline decision making and keeps everyone focused on what’s most vital to the organization. Good leaders are flexible without constantly changing direction.
5) They champion a healthy workplace environment
The best leaders keep a good sense of the atmosphere and morale of their team. For the greater good they notice and deal with unhealthy or toxic team members or inefficient systems that undermine the work. A good leader may not like hard conversations, but they don’t avoid them when necessary.
Poor leaders are disconnected from or in denial about problems that can eat away at the fruitfulness and fulfillment of their team or organization.
6) They don’t use bullying tactics
In time-crunch-job-on-the-line moments some leaders can belittle, attack, threaten, connive, or use profanity to get people to move faster, do better, jump higher, or reach whatever the goal may be. A threatened ego is usually behind this kind of poor, inexcusable behavior that should not be condoned at any level of any organization.
Good leaders motivate positively and when correction is called for it is done with a view toward what is best for the organization and the individual.
7) They inspect what they expect
Healthy leaders stay in touch with what’s really happening in their organization. They don’t just take other people’s word for it. On some kind of regular basis, they check things out for themselves. When healthy leaders give an assignment they check back to see how that task is coming, which allows for better mid-course corrections and mentoring.
Some leaders just throw out assignments and hope they get done because their own plate is too full to include check-ins. Check backs are great opportunities to offer encouragement and affirmation and if something is headed off course the leader knows about it in time to make key changes.
8) They set realistic goals and expectations
Leaders are known for getting out ahead of their teams and calling them forward. This works well when the rest of the team is given ample time to catch up. Senior leaders work at a faster, higher pace than everyone else and it’s easy for them to get frustrated if their team cannot keep up.
When the leader expects the team to match their speed it can be a real problem. Good leaders know the true speed of their teams and recalibrate their time- tables and expectations to a healthy reality for all.
9) They have increasing self-awareness
There is nothing more challenging than following a leader who is clueless to the way they come across to others. The best leaders have learned they still have more growing to do when it comes to healthy ways of working with others.
They put themselves in intentional times of self-reflection and seek counsel from those that can speak the truth to them. They know how to ask forgiveness when they fail and they inspire others by the ways they keep growing, learning and changing.
10) They know it’s not all about them
Weaker leaders who insist on special treatment or use excessive self-promotion demotivate and demoralize others. Good leaders inspire people to a cause greater than themselves. They insist on applauding and rewarding the strengths of others on their team.
These leaders are dynamic and confident in the unique contribution they bring to the table but they also keep a sober assessment of themselves knowing that even as gifted as they are they are not irreplaceable.
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This is a guest post from David and Caron Loveless who started Live True, an organization that helps leaders who want to live, love, and lead from a healthier soul.