The world needs a good leader more than ever with trade issues, climate change to the pandemic, and the economy. We also need good corporate leaders as we enter into a deeply challenging economic situation globally. Leaders who are able to have empathy, compassion, and the patience to see through the multiple crises without personal agenda are more needed than ever. Stable leaders who share consistent messages allows views and listens to them without injecting fear. This brings us to the important trait of a good leader.
Why Are There So Many Incompetent Leaders?
According to the Peter Principle, employees are promoted based on their success in a specific role. For example, a successful salesman with top numbers may be promoted to head of sales. S/he may have all the characteristics of a great salesperson, but lack managerial skills. Dr. Laurence J. Peter, said people get promoted till they reach a level till they are no longer competent. This often frustrates the rest of the team below him/her.
Too many people are hired based on their past accomplishments reflected on their CVs. But too little emphasis is placed on personal strengths. Strengths which could have an effect on the potential employee’s role in the future. Besides the Peter Principle, organizations also promote people from the inner group. A group that follows what the management says. This group is seldom promoted based on their competence but based on their ability to say yes to the boss. Unfortunately, those who would like to contribute by sharing their views often stay only stay long enough for the pay package or for a better-looking CV.
What Traits Good Leaders Look for In Followers?
A good leader would know how to pick followers to succeed him or her. A good leader is humble enough to want to be surrounded by people who would dare say no to him/her. S/he isn’t afraid to show that he/she doesn’t know everything and is able to admit it. This means an effective leader is someone who is humble, authentic and is confident enough to show his or her weakness.
To be able to listen to someone tell you that you are wrong and to be patient and open-minded enough to make relevant changes is not only the mark of a good leader but also of a follower. The most important trait of a good leader is also the most important trait of a follower. The most important trait of a follower, besides being patient, humble, open-minded, and intelligent is integrity. Warren Buffett said there are three things he looks out for when hiring people:
“We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.”
Integrity is the Most Important Trait of a Good Leader
Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Munger said that they have seen too many managers pressured by Wall Street and committed fraud, which led to major losses for investors. These are some characteristics of someone with integrity:
- Able to practice what you preach – A person with integrity does not say one thing and do another. In short, a person with integrity is consistent.
- Being positive in difficult situations – This does not mean to bury one’s head in a made belief positive reality. Positive thinking comes with accepting facts while staying optimistic without being burdened by fear or cognitive biases.
- Be authentic – Someone who is honest enough to show his or her own vulnerabilities and not cover-up to hide weaknesses is an authentic leader. By being authentic, it wins the trusts of others and also shows a leader’s ability to trust.
- Be assertive – A leader with integrity is also assertive. This is unfortunately an important trait when dealing with people. A good leader doesn’t sugar-coat but says what is needed with tact and compassion.
- Stay focused – A good leader is not restless, but is able to see through a project or a problem for as long as it takes in practical terms that is beneficial for the company.
Buffett said that it is very important for a leader to pause and think of the consequences of their actions or decisions. It is imperative to think before one acts because of the effects leaders can have on employees to clients and partners.
Mindfulness has been taught as a way to reduce stress. Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training, while being able to reduce stress, also increases positivity in individuals. After all, good leadership depends on the values and integrity of a leader and not the bravado we see on the outside.