What makes for great leadership?

What makes for great leadership?


leadershipThere is so much rhetoric in leadership but from time to time we get to see and experience what great leadership is.

These are moments, events and time in our lives when we feel touched, moved and inspired because we see and experience great leadership.

What have been such moments for you?

Perhaps it was a parent figure, a family member or a manager who embodied confidence in you and your abilities and made you feel like you could take on anything. 

 And that is exactly what you did as you proved them right.

Then there are many awe-inspiring history-making stories as per Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, The Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Mother Theresa.

Here are seven qualities, principles, and actions I have chosen as comprising great leadership:

1) Great leadership embodies A SPIRITED VISION.

This power of the vision transcends any   current circumstances and is able to instill a legacy of hope, be a guiding light and give its followers something to aspire towards. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King’s heartfelt speech, “I have a dream….” A dream, which many, many years later came to be realized.

2) Great leadership is able to CONNECT WITH PEOPLE.

It’s able to touch the hearts, minds, and spirit of everyday people.  It inspires and motivates.  Going back to the first Obama campaign – it began at the grassroots level with little funds but his followers willingly dug into their pockets, got the ball rolling and did what they could. People were so inspired; they also turned out in record numbers to vote.

In our organizational context, a good question to ask is, “what else can we be doing to connect, inspire and motivate our people so we give and get the best of their head, heart and hands?

3) Great leadership HOLDS A PROMISE.

This is a promise that followers resonate with.  Typically, this is a promise of change that people feel deep inside of them.  When there is an overriding and genuine consciousness of “we can’t carry on in the same vein as we have, those things have to be different” than followers are moved to action.

Leadership promise is more than rhetoric. It’s real and people “get it.”

And as with brands, if you have to work hard at explaining it, then you can be sure that people do not get it!

4) Great leadership is BASED ON SOLID VALUES.

People like to know what their leaders stand for.  Clearly articulated values that are authentic and meaningful for the leader and his or her people are vital in communicating what matters to the leader and what they will be a values champion for.  Integrity is at the core of leadership and responsibility, accountability, honesty, self-awareness are values which support this.

5) Great leadership is about SERVICE.

It focuses outwards as it unites people to a common goal and a bigger purpose.  It is based on solid values that embrace, contribute and enrich the lives of others.  It’s not just about me.  Again think of the greats – Nelson Mandela or Gandhi and their massive contribution to their people and the world.

In my leadership coaching work, the CEOs often say that for their GMs to be truly effective, they have to be developing leaders in the tiers below and also be thinking about the business as a whole beyond their siloed division.


One thing we are not is perfect! We can count on ourselves to make mistakes.  Leaders get judged not just when they are riding the wave of success but also how they deal with challenges and defeat.

The point is not that these mistakes occur but more how we deal with it. Are we quick to take responsibility or is the finger pointing somewhere else?  Are we able to hold ourselves and others to account?  Can we apologize easily and be humble enough to try and understand what went wrong and what the learning is?

7) Great leaders DO THEIR INNER WORK.

They deepen their self-awareness and shun the roadblocks of denial, excuses, and blame.  Leadership is a constant work in progress. How you get there is just as important as achieving those results.



This is a shared post by Jasbinder Singh a Business Psychologist and Leadership Coach.


cutmypic(3)Jasbindar Singh loves helping people advance in the careers, leadership and lives. 

She works as a business psychologist, leadership coach, and conference facilitator.


What makes for great leadership?

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