14 Apr Twelve Things that Good Leaders Do
Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on April 14, 2015
- Good leaders lead (excuse the redundancy) for the greater good, not to build up their egos, power, or fortune. They take care of others, act consistently with their values, and lead by example. This makes them reliable and predictable.
- They don’t expect others to act or solve problems for them. They don’t victimize themselves or blame others for their shortcomings, their failures, or their mistakes. They don’t go about criticizing others but learn, act, and solve. They deal with problems, as well as manage causes or projects they believe in and usually bring these to fruition. They strive for what they believe in.
- They deliver. They measure themselves and others by real accomplishments, not by the size of their promises. They are not arrogant, because they know that being a leader doesn’t make them infallible, perfect, or more capable than others, rather they respect everyone and don’t insult them with words or actions.
- They know that respect is the foundation of the trust they need to lead their team. They are confident and modest at the same time, because they know they won’t always play a leadership role in all aspects of their lives. They know how to follow others when the situation calls for it.
- They make decisions, as difficult or as hard as they may be. They take risks but, above all, responsibility for the consequences of their decisions on the few (or many) occasions they might make a mistake, just like any other person. Although, their failures are usually much more visible! They know how to listen and apologize if needed.
- They have a clear vision of what they want to achieve; they envision the future with optimism and provide guidance to others. This vision usually involves a mission that captivates them, a legacy worth pursuing, something that stirs their passion deep inside and, above all, inspires others to accomplish it. Indeed, leaders set themselves ambitious goals, and inspire and motivate others to work to accomplish them as if they were their own. They mobilize people, make changes that were thought impossible, and snap themselves and everyone else out of the inertia or apathy of the status quo.
- They are genuinely interested in their people and are concerned about their growth. They act as their mentors and strive for them to become increasingly better at what they do. They are motivators and tend to exude warmth (although they are never fully satisfied with the results!). They are energetic and enthusiastic, and this inspires those who trust them.
- They bring out the best in others; they help them see things in themselves that they didn’t know they had in them. They show them what they could be, what a better version of themselves looks like. They drive their teams to achieve results that they didn’t know they were capable of.
- They know that being a leader is not about focusing on themselves or building their ego, but concentrating on the people that they lead. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, put it so much better than I can: “Your success as a leader will come not from what you do but from the reflected glory of your team”. 
- They use their charisma to generate trust, not to lure the innocent with false pretenses or those who will only serve to build their ego. Leaders protect their people from real dangers (or at least try to do so), but make them face reality.
- Good leaders seek and establish contact networks with other leaders. They know they are responsible for the development of other leaders and are not afraid of relating to and hiring people that are better than they are. Paying it forward becomes a mantra for these leaders.
- They are fully aware that the most difficult task in leadership is leading oneself. They have the discipline, make the effort, and put in the dedication required to become a good leader and always remain one.