Pages and pages of easel paper could be filled with characteristics of a good leader. We could search this question and have an endless list of characteristics. Good, even great characteristics.
But what do these characteristics look like? How do they make people feel? What is the impact on the people around leaders?
Having asked this question of adults in various settings the answer always is a comprehensive list of characteristics of leadership……for example:
It seems easy to list the characteristics, but it takes self-assessment and commitment to exhibit the characteristics. My actions, my presence in the characteristics, essentially the way I am is what has the impact on others around me.
This hit home for me when I asked this same question “what makes a good leader?” of youth. The answers were a little different.
• Someone who makes me feel important
• Someone who helps me learn new things
• Someone who teaches me to do my job
• Someone who is there if I have a question
• Someone who knows what they are doing
• Someone who leads a group to accomplish something together
• Someone who knows I am good at things
Most of my kids in class share openly and easily, yet there are always a few that you never really know if they are listening or if you are reaching them. If you could picture this day, a group of 12 and 13 year olds gathered around the easel paper, relaxed, sharing thoughts, and this quiet voice from the side of me says….
• ‘Someone who doesn’t yell at me when I make a mistake’
Even now as I reflect back it brings tears to my eyes. ‘Someone who doesn’t yell at me when I make a mistake’, there is a story there, a moment in this young person’s life where someone did something that impacted him.
We are all leaders.
It is not just characteristics that make a good leader but more importantly the person who embodies them. Characteristics are qualities or values people have, qualities that inform actions or behaviors and define the person who behaves them. This is the core of ‘everybody is a leader’. We are all ‘someone’ for ‘someone’ else.
What kind of ‘someone’ do you want to be?