Who was the best leader you ever had?
And what made her/him the best? What did they say and do? What did they NOT do? And how did they relate to you?
We are often asked the question if great leaders are born or made. And our answer is consistently “well it depends….” Let us explain what we mean.
When we use the word leadership we usually include the practices of both leadership AND management. And a great leader needs to have a bit of both.
As leadership is about influencing others, leadership is to a large degree about behaviours. But there of course also needs to be a certain amount of structure, follow-through, follow-up and action (=management). A great leader can connect with and influence others to want to give it their best, but they can also ensure that things happen according to plan and expectations.
Some people will of course be better at relating to other people, whilst others may be better at creating a good plan and executing it. Some of these capabilities are natural talents, whereas other things need to be worked at. No one can be best at everything.
We have found that the best leaders are often those that are able to make the most of their natural talents. This is often referred to as Authentic Leadership, meaning that there is an honesty in there, that the person is true to their own character and build on that to be able to influence others in a positive way. And the best leaders are also good at just making people feel seen and heard.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
So are great leaders born or made?
Well, there are natural born leaders out there who can seemingly effortlessly rally the troops and make them want to give it their all, but we have also seen many leaders who have worked hard at relating to people to be able to influence authentically in their own way. And it often starts with developing the ability to listen and understand the person and situation in question. We will dive into this subject next week, and get practical about how to do just that.
Let’s come back to our original question now – who was the best leader you ever had? And what did they do that truly made a difference to you; that resonated with you? What did they do that made the biggest difference to you and how did it make you feel?
We would love to hear your story, and welcome your comments below. Thank you.
About the authors
Mandy Flint & Elisabet Vinberg Hearn, award-winning authors of ”The Team Formula”.
Their latest book, multi-award-winning ”Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions”, published by Financial Times International is a practical tool for building winning teams. You can download a free chapter of the book at www.leadingteamsbook.com
Praise for ”Leading Teams: ”Enjoyable to read. Simple to understand. Practical to implement. A must read for team members or leaders”Debbie Fogel-Monnissen, Executive Vice President, International Markets Finance Officer, Mastercard, NY, USA