Each February we celebrate Presidents' Day as a national holiday that honors two of our country's greatest presidents: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both men were great presidents because, despite their vast difference, they shared similar leadership traits that are just as important today -- in the private and the public sector -- as they were centuries ago.
The style of great leaders may vary but they share the most admirable leadership traits. Whether leader of a country or leader of a company, the following traits are consistent among all successful leaders.
1. Honesty. Leaders who share the good and the bad news with integrity are respected and worth listening to. Trust and honesty go hand-in-hand, and once employees trust their leaders, they will admire them for their honesty and remain loyal to their cause.
2. Compassion. Too many leaders these days manage by the balance sheet, often at the expense of their employees and long-term customer relationships. Talented people want to work for leaders that truly care about their employees and the communities in which they operate.
3. Shared vision and actions. Good leaders provide employees with a consistent message and always live by the corporate values of the vision statement which is shared with everyone. In the end, this produces real business gains because employees understand how their individual performance in the company impacts the corporate outcome.
4. Engagement. Great business leaders have the ability to get all members of their teams engaged. They do this by offering them challenges, seeking their ideas and contributions and providing them with recognition for their contributions.
5. Celebration. In today's work environment, we are working very long hours and we need to take some time to celebrate our successes in order to recharge our batteries.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT...There are two additional traits that make great leaders. (I also seek these traits in the people hired at Shamrock.) One, a great leader is positive and displays a can-do attitude. A positive attitude is contagious. Two, a great leader needs to know when to back away and when to offer help. Great leaders guide, yet they allow their people to make decisions so that they can learn and grow from the results of their decisions.