Think about the people who have had a positive influence on the course of your life. Did these people have anything in common with each other? Did these people exhibit a certain quality that inspired you to grow as a professional, as a person?
There have been several people in my life that inspired positive change, and the quality that these people shared is that they cared. They cared deeply about their work, and they cared genuinely about me as a person. That they cared is a key part of why they were great leaders.
But what, specifically, does being a great leader look like? For me, it boils down to two things: accountability and communication.
Caring is holding people accountable. Great leaders hold themselves and others accountable for achieving results, and they establish a foundation to fairly hold people accountable by defining responsibilities, defining the context of those responsibilities in relation to a team or department, and defining success. With this foundation in place, the results that are desired and how to pursue these results become clear.
Caring means communicating directly. Great leaders hold people accountable by monitoring results and providing honest and specific feedback about what is working and what is not working. Great leaders also know that feedback is bidirectional, and they take time to listen to understand why something worked or why something did not work. When performed consistently and frequently, the two-step process of monitoring results and delivering feedback provides people with direction and helps people grow and develop.
Being a good leader takes work—it's not something you learn overnight. Following are a few of my favorite resources for learning about leadership.
Jeff Mask ranks as one of the people who have significantly inspired me during my career. In their podcast Ready to Lead, Jeff and his co-host, Richard Lindner, discuss leadership and management principles and techniques.
The Bullet Proof® Manager by Crestcom was my introduction early in my career to leadership and management principles and practices, with a focus on practical guidance.