Leadership. That word alone conjures up a massive array of images, ideas and thoughts. We’ve all encountered leaders is various scenarios- school, work, sport, politics.
We can all pick the traits of a ‘bad’ leader, which may include some of the following:
- Delegate too much or not enough
- Lack of consultation with their team
- Resists taking responsibility for decisions made or resists making decisions altogether
- Does not acknowledge the efforts of their team
- Belittling attitude towards team members.
The above list is by no means complete or comprehensive, but that is not my focus here. What we need to figure out, is what makes a good leader?
A good leader considers the thoughts and beliefs of their team. They consult. Typically, they’ll still have the final say, but see themselves as having a responsibility to consider as many viewpoints as possible.
A good leader recognises therefore, the strengths each team member brings. This may be in skills, knowledge, experience or particular personality traits, such as enthusiasm or the ability to motivate. A good leader is able to successfully tap into these qualities and assign roles best suited to the individual.
A good leader forms a vision and has goals which are consistently worked towards and revised if necessary. They keep the team on track by reminding them of the principal purpose, especially when gears begin to grind and progress comes to a standstill. Better still, the good leader believes in this vision as valuable, legitimate and part of a bigger picture.
The above points really just skim the surface of what makes a good leader. Indeed, entire books have been written on the subject. The above leadership traits tend to fall into a particular style of leadership, known as transformational leadership. It is as the name suggests: a change, alteration, metamorphosis.
Of course, there are other effective types of leadership. Transformational leadership has been depicted in the literature to be quite effective in a range of contexts, from business structures, to the organisation of a school.
“No man is an island”. This poem by John Donne, sums up nicely what makes a good leader. A leader cannot be truly effective if acting in an isolated manner. By reaching out from their island, a leader can do much, much more.
Academy of American Poets. (n.d.). John Donne. Retrieved August 9, 2014 from www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/john-donne
Browning, P. (2013). Creating the conditions for transformational change. Australian Educational Leader. 35(3) 14-17. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from
Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: From research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved May 29, 2014 from www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/Read.aspx.