The Three Most Important Skills of Great Leaders
Simon Sinek gives a compelling description of the problem.
- The real job of a leader is not being in charge but taking care of the people in your charge.
- Leaders are promoted for job skill, not leadership ability.
- Most leaders lack empathy and perspective.
- Instead of getting the most out of your people like wringing out a towel, focus on how to help people to be at their natural best.
The solution is Compassionate Accountability®, and it’s captured in The Compassion Cycle.
Three Leadership Skills for Compassionate Accountability®
Three skills are required for good leadership: Openness, Resourcefulness, and Persistence. In that order.
Openness is about creating a place where people feel affirmed, accepted, and validated as human beings. This is where empathy and perspective come in.
Openness is the foundation for safety and the number one skill of leadership.
Safety leads to better learning and performance outcomes. Bad leaders avoid openness because they think it’s weak and haven’t yet learned how to get personal without making it personal.
Resourcefulness comes next. Resourcefulness is about involving people in creative problem-solving. Curious questions, learning from mistakes, and interest in another’s capabilities is how great leaders create a space where people really contribute their best ideas and step up to be part of the solution. Bad leaders avoid resourcefulness because they are too attached to their own ideas and egos and haven’t yet learned how to replace judgment with curiosity.
Finally comes Persistence. Persistence is about making the most important thing the most important thing. Vision, courage around boundaries, healthy accountability, and willingness to own mistakes helps leaders keep an eye on true north. Bad leaders either avoid persistence for fear of conflict, or resort to desperate and abusive tactics because they haven’t yet learned how to take 100% responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Two Mistakes Leaders and Organizations Make
Many leaders start with persistence, believing that respect comes with laying down the law and exercising authority. But the opposite is true. The most respected leaders start with openness to establish connection, safety and trust.
Many leaders are promoted because of their resourcefulness, not because of their ability to lead. Consequently, they fall into the trap of doing it themselves. They judge everyone else’s abilities, stop delegating, and micromanage instead of building capability in their people.
- Which is your strongest skill?
- Your weakest?
- Where do you usually start on the Compassion Cycle?
- Where do you get stuck?
- Which skill, if developed more, would most benefit you as a leader?