What Every Great Leader Knows
Sometimes when we meet a great leader, we are in awe of them, and we feel like they must certainly know absolutely everything. Not true. Great leaders don’t know everything, but they have a firm grip on a few areas of leadership that affect everything else. Because they have a deep self-awareness in a few areas, they are able to lead from a place of great security. Here are a few things great leaders know.GREAT LEADERS KNOW WHAT THEY STAND FOR.Personal values are where everything starts. Great leaders have considered this thoroughly. They know what’s important to them, they know their values, they’re clear on what motivates them and they know the impact they want to have on the world. That knowledge set creates the boundaries and parameters for their lives.Personal values do not depend on anyone else. They are the beliefs, principles of behavior, and standards that guide a person’s life. Common values include integrity, teamwork, creativity, responsibility, faithfulness, honesty, etc. These values are formed through associations and experiences in society and from authority figures we admire, our families and our friends. These values are the heart of who we are. A true leader takes responsibility for his/her life, and develops the standards by which they will live and lead.Consider the leaders throughout history who have left their marks. Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela—the people expected them to stand for something, and these leaders did not disappoint. They each had clear principles and values upon which their leadership was crafted. Their values even determined the way they exercised their power.Our relationships are built or destroyed by our personal values. When your values are unsettled, you’re easily swayed by the opinions of others and inconsistency becomes your trademark. Your unpredictability erodes trust.Your personal values impact how you relate to people, how you respond to obstacles and opportunities, and the role model you are for others. Are you clear on your core personal values? What are the five values that are most important for you? What are the “hills you would die on?”LEADERS KNOW THEIR PERSONALITYWarren Bennis, one of this generation’s great leaders, says a great leader has to be able to separate who he is and who he wants to be from who the world thinks he is and wants him to be. Successful leaders know their own personalities, and therefore know the kind of environments, information, and supports they need in order to succeed.There are a number of reliable personality assessments available online and hardcopy that provide a way for you to become deeply aware of your own personality and benefit from it. The assessments are clinical and non-biased, so there is no need to be defensive. Do you know who you are and how you best relate? If you have not yet been part of a personality assessment, run—don’t walk. Get it done today. The insight into yourself will quickly help you take a step forward in your leadership.LEADERS KNOW THEIR STRENGTHSSuccessful leaders build on or exploit their strengths, and manage their weaknesses. We may be good at a number of things, passable at many others, but only really great at a few. Self-aware leaders know the few things that they are great at and are constantly working on improving on these few key strengths. They don’t waste their time in futile attempts to raise their weaknesses much.When we know our strengths, we have great confidence. Having a firm grasp on our capabilities allows us to put ourselves in situations to succeed much more often. It lets us know when and where to ask for help. We can play to our strengths, and focus our time and energy in the places where we contribute the maximum value. Leaders who are aware of their strengths know what they need from others to complement their leadership abilities. We hire better and perform better personally. Our confidence energizes the operation.LEADERS KNOW THEIR EMOTIONS”Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person to the right degree at the right time for the right purpose and in the right way, that is not easy.” Aristotle, and ancient philosopher spoke truth that has never changed.Daniel Goleman says that emotional intelligence is “the capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior”. He names five factors that comprise emotional intelligence: Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social skill.This is vital for great leadership, because how well leaders manage their own emotions and the emotions of others controls their own expressions, and helps them respond appropriately to interpersonal interactions, such as conflict and stressful situations. When leaders are able to identify the needs, motivations and perspectives of others, they can inspire, motivate and develop productive relationships.Great leaders know their emotions, and are very aware of the impact their emotions and actions have on others. Because of this, they are able to adjust their behaviors to fit the best needs of the situation and interact with followers and other leaders in a more positive manner. The more leaders can understand their emotions and motivations the more they are able to understand and motivate others.An aspiring leader can also find assessments to gauge their emotional awareness and improve on it as well. If you want to be a great leader, get on it. Your emotions play a key role in your success or failure.Great leaders don’t know everything. But they do know great facts about themselves, and they use them to lead powerfully and productively.