Two words come to mind: gentle fierceness. You have to have compassion and be a good listener. You also have to be grounded and be able to cut through like an arrow to the truth of the matter. And understand what is being asked and what is being required.
An important part of leading is the need to seek input from your team as you proceed. Team effort is very important. You can have an idea of how something should be done, but if there are four or five other people involved and you believe you can reach consensus, you are further down the road if you try to achieve it. If there is only one person who says “No, you’re nuts.” you have a problem. This is an area where compromise can be used to satisfy that person’s need and get everyone going together in the right direction.
A sense of humor is essential for leaders. For example, let me read you something that I shared at today’s staff meeting: “Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, ‘You stay here and I’ll go ahead.”
Many of the qualities most disliked by emerging sages in other leaders are also identified by senior sages, including hubris, ineffective communication, not valuing and involving others, lacking vision and focus on organizational goals, and rushing to judgment:
Hubris. Among the most troubling traits to senior sages are leaders who believe they have all the answers, who focus on their needs rather than the needs of their organization and others, who impose their will when they really are uncertain of what is needed, who are unable to admit error, and who are too tied to ideology or too self-absorbed:
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Too many leaders get caught-up in believing they have all the answers, that they know more than they truly do. So they stop connecting with their people. Mostly this has to do with the attitude that they matter more than anybody else, so they don’t invite or want suggestions and opinions from others in the organization.