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Would You Follow That Leader?

March 14, 2012
Workplace

What kind of leader would you follow? Image via wovox on Flickr

A new study from the University of Buffalo offers new insight into what makes a good leader.  The study sought to determine if humble leaders, who are more likable and more personable, are also more effective.  The results show that when it comes to choosing someone to lead a company into a future filled with growth and opportunity, humility should be a trait high on your “must have” list.

Does that surprise you? When we picture the traditional model of a “business leader,” our minds likely conjure up a classic type-A executive who is smart, driven, resourceful, and confident – and perhaps even arrogant. The study found, however, that when you compare egotistical bosses with humble bosses, humility wins hands down.

The findings outline three behaviors that are more often found in humble leaders. They lead by example, take responsibility for their mistakes, and recognize the greatness in others. People follow humble leaders because they want to, not because of an elevated position on the org chart. In addition to creating leadership people respond to, these behaviors are also predictive of company growth, employee engagement, learning, and cooperation. It’s not surprising that organizations headed by humble leaders enjoy stronger than normal employee retention.

This emerging paradigm of leadership is gaining traction in the business world as results become obvious. Traits like resilience, respectfulness, and integrity are becoming as critical as management experience, political savvy and exceptional communication skills.  Here are some of the other behaviors and traits that good leaders possess.

1.     Lead and Manage

The line that has previously separated manager and leader is blurring as teams seek out leaders who can also manage. Where leaders may have been seen as the visionaries with managers handling operations, companies and teams are looking for people who can craft and communicate a vision and handle day-to-day operations.

2.     Tell the Truth

Spin is no longer “in” and leaders who use spin tactics to please those up the ladder and appease those down the ladder will need an integrity make-over. Employees want a leader who can level with them, who doesn’t run from reality, and who finds a way to be inspiring and motivating regardless of how down and dire the circumstances seem without the spin.

3.     Create an Environment of Empowerment

Good leaders take at least as much pride in the success of others, especially their team members, as they do in their own accomplishments.  They empower their employees to make decisions and take action and find ways to create alignment between what is best of the company and what is best for the employees.

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