400 | Qualities of a Good Leader with Leaders in the Trenches

The qualities of a good leader are sometimes clear and straight forward. Other times they are counterintuitive. This is a special episode of the podcast today. We discuss the qualities of a good leader with some of my favorite guests. These five experts and I talk about the qualities of a good leader. Learn the mistakes and lessons learned on this journey. Please share this episode with those that want to be better leaders.

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Qualities of a Good Leader: The Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Leaders in the trenches. And your host today is Gene Hammett.

Hi, my name is Gene Hammett. I am the host of Leaders in the Trenches. My question today is what does it take to be a good leader? What are the qualities that you must know about being a good leader? Those qualities are the topic of today’s conversation. But this is a very special episode. This episode is more than just one that ends in two Zeros. Today we’re celebrating 400 episodes, uh, on the cusp of almost five years of producing this podcast. For you to be a better leader, a more effective entrepreneur, and to really grow the business that really makes a difference in this world. And I really love what I do here at leaders in the trenches. But what I loved best is hearing from you about what you are challenged with and how I’m helping you grow.

Gene Hammett: So I hear all these messages all the time. And today this strikes to the heart of a message that comes all the time, is how do we be a more confident leader? How do we be more courageous? How do we create that confidence and courage in others and so today we’re going to talk about the qualities of being a good leader.

I have a very special episode that I have planned here. It’s not an interview and it’s not just me talking to the camera like this. I actually have reached out to some of my favorite guests to talk about this topic of good leadership and we’re going to talk about the things that they did an along their journey, some of the mistakes, some of them, the things that they learned and what they’re doing now to stay on top of it, to keep evolving and to being better leaders tomorrow.

Let’s go and jump in. I’d love to introduce our experts today. The first is Neen James. Neen is just fantastic onstage and offstage and she’s written the book attention pays. She may be challenged by her height because she’s short, but she’s not challenged in her ability to lead leaders. We also have Chris Brogan. Chris is just hilarious, but he’s also a speaker, a writer, coauthor. One of the books he had recently is called the impact equation. It’s about bringing more humanity into your work. It really is a good fit to have his insight on today’s program. The next expert here is Josh Linkner. Josh is an expert and speaker on innovation. He’s one that Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year award twice, which is very impressive, but he’s also the author of hacking innovation, which is about a new framework for reinvention and innovation that you really want to pay attention to.

We also have Tamsen Webster, which is fantastic from the stage, but also in how she interacts with people to help them develop their ideas and really get more clear about the communication of those ideas. She has a fantastic product out there but called find the red thread. I use this quite a bit as a speaker. She had to help me shape my idea so I really you to go fine or Google, find the red thread so you can find Thompson’s work and finally me. I will be adding a little color in here in and really filling in some of the gaps because I wanted to make sure that you really understand exactly what it takes to the qualities of being a good leader. So I write, I speak, I podcast of course. I also really enjoy working with individual leaders, founders and their executive teams to help them become the leaders that they want to be.

I really work with companies that believe their employees are the most important aspect and they want to develop those relationships so that the employees are able to take, uh, more ownership of their work. Go be on responsibility. I’ve interviewed over 300 plus fast growth executives to really understand what it takes for fast growth. And that’s my focus. I share with you today these insights because I want you to know who our experts are. I want you to know who I am and now I want to jump into the qualities of being a good leader and we’re going to dive in right now. The don’t list. The first one, don’t get wrapped up in the title. Being a leader is not about the title Neen James shares her thoughts that stem from a mistake she made during stepping into leadership for the first time.

Neen James: Then I was in. And guess what? Sometimes I think as a first time meeting, you get so excited about becoming a leader that you get involved in the crazy town that is the title. And you know what? A title doesn’t matter.

Gene Hammett: Leadership is more about people than anything else. It’s not the work. It’s not the title. It’s the people. Number two, don’t be controlling. No one wants to be micromanaged, nor do they want to be controlled. Josh Linkner shares a mistake he made as a first-time leader.

Josh Linkner: One thing that I did was I tended to be too controlling. I was a micromanager. I didn’t inject enough trust in my team. And later on, I learned the lesson that I open things up. I was totally transparent and it became a weight, not me telling him that I wasn’t as parental. Instead, I became, we became more familiar. And uh, that was a big change. You know, going away from control to at two more empowerment.

Gene Hammett: You want to empower your people to think for themselves and solve the challenges that arise. Number three, don’t let fear and doubt stop you. We have at some level fear and doubt with about new strategies and new investments that we must make even though fears come up, don’t let it stop you from evolving and growing. Early in my leadership, I had an idea to do something big and innovative. I talked about it. I thought about it. I never put it into action because I let my fear take over. That’s the reason I wrote the book, the trap of success. I share this with you because it really is about overcoming your fears and really finding the courage to move forward. And so as a leader I say too because, from experience, you don’t want to let fear stop you. Number four, don’t focus on being liked. Leadership is not about being likable. It’s about earning their appreciation. Chris Brogan talks about an early mistake he made that relates to being light.

Chris Brogan: As a first-time leader. One of the mistakes I made was I kept mistaking likability for being a good boss and being a good leader. And I kept thinking that if everyone liked me, then I was probably a good leader. Well like abilities, great. Unless you’re trying to help someone improve their skills and hone their systems. Likability is great until you have to provide feedback that will otherwise cause a huge problem with the rest of the organization and like abilities. Wonderful. Unless you actually want to have success for all of your team and not just yourself emotions and your personal feelings. So one of my biggest mistakes, I think early on as a leader was trying to get people to like me instead of trying to lead in a way that earned people’s appreciation.

Gene Hammett: Kevin and goes deeper into this with a distinction between being likable and likability.

Kevin Kruse: To be likable but not light. So there’s no reason to be a jerk. Like you should act like a good person. You should be kind, you should act from a place of caring and even love for your team members, but you should not care whether you are actually liked in return. A problem I had, I think a lot of young leaders have is that you know, we, we want to be the popular boss, the Nice boss, the friend boss. You know, I used to think, oh, we’re all just equaled here rolling. Just different roles and that will make people like you. But the problem, there’s a couple of problems with that. First of all, I mean most people, they don’t need another friend. They do need a leader. They need a leader who’s going to coach them, mentor them, guide them. Sometimes that’s a tough conversation. They also need a leader who’s going to make hard decisions fairly quickly for the safety and the growth of the team. You know, I used to too lead by consensus. I wanted everybody to agree and of course, that’s hard enough and there’s only a couple of you on the team. But then when there are 50 people and then 150 people in the company, it really slows everything down and is impossible. So I think, you know, be likable but don’t really care if you are liked.

Gene Hammett: Being a leader is hard and takes direct conversations. That must put the good of all the people and the growth of the organization ahead of the desire to be liked by the people. Number five, don’t treat everyone the same. Leaders often want to be fair and equal. However, we must understand that not everyone is the same. We must know those that need support and those that want autonomy here is Tamsen sharing about her, looking back and giving her younger self-leadership insight.

Tamsen Webster: If I could go back and give myself as a fresh, newly minted leader, one piece of advice it would be, it would be to understand the difference between fair treatment and equal treatment of the people that work with you. And here’s what I mean. Different people have different skill sets, they have different ways they need to be managed, different ways that they want and need to be led. And, and I think in the early days I was so focused on making sure I was treating everybody the same way, that in fact, in certain cases that meant it was incredibly unfair to certain people. There were people who didn’t need as much day to day guidance that I was giving it to. And so it was frustrating to them and it held them back. And, and then there were people who, who for instance needed much more direct guidance and I was like, Oh, you’ll figure it out. So I think to understand that difference between fair and equal, uh, is something that I wish I had learned a lot faster. Uh, but once I did learn made a huge difference to me as a leader

Gene Hammett: To get the most out of everyone. You have to treat them different because they are different now to do list. When we shift here, we want to look at who you must be moving forward. These qualities of good leaders are profound when you truly live them and own them as a way of operating in the world. Number six, Doobie. A lifelong learner. Leaders evolve. Leaders grow. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and nearly every other leader values learning. Let’s look at how three of our leaders see the value of personal growth.

Josh Linkner: Finally, in terms of continuous growth as a leader, uh, it’s dramatically affected me. I’m a lifelong learner. I’m always learning, always growing. I have a saying that I want to put the Josh my myself of six months ago out of business. I had a saying at my own company that someday a company would come along and put us out of business. It might as well be us and I apply that same approach to personal development. So I would suggest anyone listening or you know, read, learn, sharpen your saw. The more that you can advance your own capabilities today, the more benefit you’ll have going forward.

Kevin Kruse: So first of all, growth is very important to me. Uh, I am a lifelong learner and I think anybody who is not investing a lot of the resources into learning is going to be quickly left behind. I mean, industries are changing like crazy. The robots are coming for our jobs. Uh, globalization. Other humans around the world are coming for our job. I spend easily over 10% of my, of my income and over 10% of my time learning from anything I can, whether it’s online resources or books. I mean, I’m probably a reading one to two books a week. Um, blog posts, coaches, mentors, online learning programs, you know, whatever it is you want to learn as much as possible. You want to be a lifelong learner. You want to develop that growth mindset. Otherwise, you’re going to be confused when you’re laid off and can’t get a new job. Or when your company goes out of not your own company, even just the company you work for and now you have to fight it out, you know, uh, to do something else. Things are moving fast. We all have to be lifelong learners.

Chris Brogan: There’s that super, super cliche statement that readers are leaders or leaders are readers or whatnot. Totally true. I think that one disc disadvantage people have is that if they stayed learning only within their industry, they’re doomed. You can only see what’s come behind. It’s like looking in the rear view mirror and as I tend to say to people about being competitive, no one’s ever won a race looking sideways. Well, you definitely don’t win races looking behind you either leadership and sort of keeping a growth going is looking beyond your vertical, looking beyond your industry and saying, what am I going to learn if I pay attention to this over here? What can I bring back to my world but they haven’t tried before? One of my favorite questions to ask as a leader is why hasn’t anyone and I think that that’s a powerful way to move from where you are and the current stuck thinking you might have this causing you a challenge to get forward and where do you need to go next?

Gene Hammett: Learning is important for new ideas and new strategies. You must take action from the learning. Don’t just read something and listen to new things. Nene, here’s a simple way to get the most out of your life of learning.

Neen James: I am a person who is committed to attending industry conferences, watching Ted talks, reading books, listening to podcasts, and constantly absorbing information because that is part of the industry in which I’m a part of that. To me, I think what has really impacted me is the ability to understand that we need to filter through all of the information that we get exposed to and find the things that are most relevant and that can be impacting you and right now. So if you watch a Ted talk or you read an article, you read a book, think about what is one thing you could apply right now and then do that for the next 90 days. We need to pay attention as leaders, we have a, you are a first time Leto or you’ve been around for a long time. It is my belief that when you pay attention, attention pays.

Gene Hammett: Be a lifelong learner. Don’t stop growing and evolving. You owe it to your team and you owe it to yourself. Number seven, do learn how to give feedback. Giving support to growth means you have to understand how to give feedback. Kevin shares a mistake he made early in his journey as a leader.

Kevin Kruse: One mistake I made when I was a first-time leader was I used to withhold giving feedback. So my personality type, I’m very non-confrontational and so back when I was young and dumb, I would think giving feedback would be viewed as an attack. You know, I thought I was going to get people mad or that uh, they get, they get upset with me or disagree have become a conflict. And so I used withhold it and I used to, I didn’t do it on purpose, but, but I’m just thinking like, oh, I’ll wait until there’s a better time. I’ll wait until the end of the project. I’ll wait until the end of the month. I’ll wait until our quarterly meeting. I’ll wait 10 months until there’s an annual performance review. What I realized is I wasn’t withholding feedback to spare their feelings. I was doing it to spare my feelings.

Kevin Kruse: I didn’t have the courage to have that kind of a conversation. And as I got older, of course, I figured out, okay, it sounds Corny, but feedback is a gift. People want feedback from their manager. They want feedback from their manager who’s acting like a coach. They want to get better. I was just ignoring people. They probably thought I didn’t care about them. They weren’t getting any better and they certainly weren’t developing. Okay. So, uh, that’s a critical mistake. I mean, people want to receive that feedback. They want to know how they could be doing better.

Gene Hammett: I know Peter shares a mistake she made.

Tamsen Webster: One of the biggest mistakes I made as a first time leader, and it pains me to admit this, but really before I understood the effect of supportive correction, let’s call it that, I, there was a time where when someone did something that, that needed to be adjusted in some way, that they were, they behaved a certain way or said something a certain way. Aye. I corrected them in front of their colleagues, um, for something that wasn’t necessary to be corrected in front of the colleagues are in front of an, in front of this person’s colleagues. And I just remember seeing the look on that person’s face and realizing that not only had I not landed really the point that I was trying, but then I had actually done damage with other people. Um, and most of all the person I was talking to. Uh, so I keep that lesson and have kept that lesson incredibly close to understand that there are, there are a time and a place for correcting behavior or correcting what somebody is doing. But the most important thing you can do is continue to build that person up and to build from a build from strengths. And one of the most important things to do that is to understand when something needs to be kept private. And, and that I think is a, I learned it, learned it painfully in early. Uh, but it’s a mistake. I’m glad I made so that I did, I knew it and I’ve never made it again since.

Gene Hammett: Do listen deeply. Listen beyond the words. Listen, actively listen with empathy. Leaders can’t just listen to respond. Listening makes people feel understood. Improving your listening, where require you to unlearn habits that keep you from listening deeply.

Neen James: And the advice I would give myself is the same as I give my audience who’s now around the globe, and that is paying attention. Pay attention to the way you show up to the way you communicate. Pay attention to your personal brand. Pay attention to the conversations. Be such a fascinated that you are able to absorb all of the great information that is around you and the mentoring opportunities.

Gene Hammett: Do Trust your gut numbers are certainly important to company growth. However, you must go beyond the numbers to your real instincts. Josh gives us a take on trusting yourself.

Josh Linkner: One would it be to trust my spider sense. There were a couple of times where I was in a meeting with more experienced people, bankers and such, and I felt like something wasn’t quite right, but I deferred to them because they were the experts. But in turn, when my spider senses were tingling, I should have listened because those are the times when your gut, your instinct is telling you to do something. It’s probably worth listening and paying closer attention.

Gene Hammett: We don’t always have all the information to make a careful decision. So learn to trust the instincts and your gut. Do Challenge people to grow. Humans want to grow. And yet many avoid change. As a leader, you want to challenge them to grow in skills, confidence, and courage. Tamsen shares with us how she sees growth when you are a leader.

Tamsen Webster: But I think the thing that has grown as I’ve grown is this understanding that people will always meet the bar that you set for them. And so because what I have done over the years is try continually to figure out how can I improve? What’s the bar that I can set for myself? And what I’ve seen is that if I set the bar low, that’s where I go. And if I set the bar high, then I’m driven to meet or exceed it. And so as I’ve, as I’ve really seen my approach to the leadership change, it really is about figuring out what I see for those people that I work with or for them, even for the companies that I work with. And for and set that bar as high as I think that they can realistically go and then just delight in seeing people meet and exceed it.

Gene Hammett: Setting the bar high for yourself will inspire others to reach for what they want. Many people would do the work that is assigned to them. They will take responsibility for their work. Good leaders are willing to inspire people to feel like they are the owners and their roles and then they’re able to take ownership of their work. Ownership is yes or no, it is black or white. Chris talks about the challenge of being a good leader. Sure.

Chris Brogan: If I want to be the best kind of leader that I’m going to really have to hold two really disparate thoughts in my head at the same time. One is that everyone’s opinion and ideas are really worth weighing and considering, but to the active leadership is really being clear enough in your description and your explanation of what needs to get done that people really can move forward with is less direction as necessary if they really feel like they understand the premise and understand the challenge and understand where they’re heading with everything. Leadership is so much better done if people can really move towards a certain goal and really understand it and own it on there, on themselves and the more that they can own their own interpretation of it, the better way. So it’s great to hear people’s thoughts and opinions. I think it’s ultimate when people really understand clearly what,you need and so much so that they can articulate it clearly back and that they can run with that and really take great ownership of it.

Gene Hammett: These are the 10 qualities of being a good leader. I share them with you because I want you to understand what does it take to really connect with people, to engage with them, to make them feel cared for, and for you to have the confidence and courage to be the leader that you want to be most. I work a lot with leadership teams on these very subjects and I’d love to help you. If you have any questions, make sure you reach out to [email protected] this has been a fantastic episode about the qualities of being a good leader. I think it’s really important to really keep pushing on that.

Remember the one about being a lifelong learner. It really is important to really keep learning about leadership and about yourself. Hopefully, this has been helpful today. I’ve enjoyed putting together this special episode. It is episode number 400 I would love for you to not only share this with someone that would appreciate it but also give us a rating review on iTunes or whatever platform you listened to. I love to know what you think of these episodes today was a lot of fun to share with you all of these experts in to organize this into something very useful for you as a leader. So take the qualities of being a good leader and use them. Now is the time, as always, lead with courage and I’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.



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