What makes a good leader has been discussed for hundreds of years. I wanted to reflect on my experiences with leadership, conflict resolution, and how we can make good on a promise to respect one another while still not disrespecting ourselves. I like to celebrate the prime examples of leadership in my life.
These looked like leaders who could identify that their main job was to ensure that everyone who was working with them, and technically, for them, had exactly what they needed. This was not only in a practical sense with all the tools and resources or knowledge of procedures involved with completing a job. This process also encompassed the ability to inspire, enrich and generate enthusiasm in sharing time with other people that worked with them.
It can be a tall task, but I’ve seen it done extremely well. The expression of “that person makes it look easy” fails to capture this phenomenon of well-done leadership, but it is as close as we can get who are looking from the outside-in. From the inside-out on the part of the leader, it is knowing that there is no real difference between themselves and their “leadees.” In return, good leaders receive the trust and acceptance from their thoughtful, generous exertion of power for the purposes of integrity instead of control. It is for competence instead of ego. And it is for humility in place of arrogance.
I wanted to know that the people that I looked up to for guidance really knew their stuff. This was the main thing I was worried about when in on of my longer-term positions, after I had completed my master’s degree, I had seen a dearth of responsible and emotionally intelligent leaders in 5 years. Emotionally Intelligent leaders lead from behind. They do not showboat or take credit.
There are leaders who will do this and they are not malignant showboaters or destructive braggarts. The people that they work with simply find them very annoying. But, I have seen other people exploit their power to the point where the other employee’s needs, even if more complex and requiring more long term accommodations, simply were not worth the bother and would fire and hire indiscriminately.
It’s that kind of workplace setting that uninspires people to become in any way attached to the prospect of remaining loyal. It was when I went to Alberta when I saw that kind of loyalty in action.
The leaders that I learned from were from all walks of life, mind you, they just happened to be living and working in Alberta at the time of our relationships. The people who led from behind didn’t take credit that wasn’t theirs and were able to go above and beyond were form different provinces including Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, BC, and even one from PEI. Some Ontarian’s were in there too.
What is most valuable in a leader is their ability to understand and not deflect the very sensitive and ever-changing follies of the human condition. It is not someone’s perspicacity with even the job’s tasks or techniques involved that determines whether they are management material. It is based on how well they are able to diffuse conflict and then continue to retain staff that want to work with them
A truly good leader does not resort to bullying or fear tactics, such as threatening to terminate the employee while knowing full-well that the employee might not have many other options given their particular circumstances. A good manager does not hold that over someone’s head as a way for them to change their behaviour. A good manager tries to save money and spend money to get the highest return back. And this practice involves investing in one of the most volatile and unpredictable kinds of resources there are: people.
All money is, is energy. And all any transaction is with another human being must be based on good faith. If there is doubt surrounding the ability for anybody to “come through” on what they’re willing to give in any relationship, have a conversation with an opportunity for people to take ownership of what’s theirs: the good, bad and the ugly. If this can’t be done though due to many repair attempts with little to know ownership, it is better to pull out, and compassionately say why.
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Wishing you good mental health, Jessica.