March 20

What Do You Think the ‘Missing Ingredient’ Is?

Before we try to answer the missing ingredient question, think of the best leader you have ever worked for. Try to envision how they treated you and others. Did they do a bunch of little things that made them an exceptional leader? Or was there something else? I imagine the relationship you had with them was outstanding.

There is no one right style of leadership. There are many unique ‘styles’ of extraordinary leaders. Leaders must know themselves well enough to use their authentic style consistently. Yet, they will not be a great leader if they only use their style. The best leaders are relationship specialists—they read others’ styles and slightly modify their style to the preferences of those around them. It’s less important what their preferred style is and more important how they adapt that style.

Peel back the ‘onion’ a little further—in addition to style, there are all the leadership competencies. The best leadership research company in the world (Zenger Folkman) has determined that 19 leadership competencies differentiate poor from good and good from outstanding leadership. To be considered extraordinary, one must be in the top 10% in five differentiating competencies.

Authentic leadership style is consistent. Leadership competencies can be developed. Habits and leadership skills support competencies. But that is not the whole story.

Finally, there is something called leadership attributes. When you think of the best leader you have ever worked for, you probably think of things like Trust, Energy, Empathy, Inspiration, Vision, Confidence, Courage, Expertise, Empowerment, and Love.

I have a hard time discerning which one of these could be considered “the missing ingredient.”

What do you think is the missing ingredient that makes great leaders great? Let’s debate what makes the most significant difference. I will summarize everyone’s input in the next blog post.

  1. Trust

Excellent working relationships are built on trust. We all question if we can trust what others say. We take fewer risks, protect ourselves more, think less creatively, and do less work when we don’t feel trusted. Without trust, relationship difficulties abound because we don’t feel psychologically safe. We all want to feel safe at work; without trust, we wonder.

  1. Energy

The most significant currency in life is neither money nor time. It is energy. Positive energy triumphs over resistance and pessimism. A leader’s positive energy can minimize impossible obstacles. The leader’s energy is what everyone else feeds off of; the higher, the better. When a leader has an unwavering positive belief in something, it tends to wear down others’ doubts.

  1. Empathy

Leaders who care about others touch our hearts. We have an adult need to be understood. When leaders’ get us,’ they usually demonstrate empathy and caring. Great leaders ask questions that reveal they know what’s important to others. They are genuinely curious about what is happening to you at work and home. They demonstrate that they understand how we feel.

  1. Inspiration

When a leader inspires us, we have energy and motivation. A great leader inspires us to pursue our purpose and to make a difference. Working with passion and motivation, you perform at your highest level. Doing the best work is doing things you didn’t think possible.

  1. Vision

Visionaries see things that others don’t. They live with one foot in today and the other foot years into the future. They know the marketplace and understand economies, competitors, and future risks. It’s almost as if they can see around corners – identifying future risks. Visionary leaders are unique and bring hope into the present because they know what others don’t.

  1. Confidence

A confident leader has an air about themselves. They seem to exist without doubts or fears. These great leaders are role models to others – exhibiting an unusual mindset. They are always glass-half-full people, and their confidence goes beyond positive thinking. Their positivity helps others overcome their fears and concerns. Confidence is contagious.

  1. Courage

Courageous leaders confront challenges and obstacles without flinching. They do not exhibit fear because they don’t feel it. Everyone admires a person who isn’t afraid. We all desire to be fearless but most of us are not. People want to be associated with a fearless leader, hoping it will rub off on them. Courage often begets courage and creates hope in the face of uncertainty.

  1. Expertise

Everyone likes to work for a guru who knows as much, if not more, than others. When the expert is leading the team, you feel like you will be able to solve the most complex problems. A brilliant leader with deep expertise enables others to relax because they don’t have to have all the good ideas or solutions.

  1. Empowerment

When you are empowered, you feel trusted. If you are micro-managed, the opposite is true. Great leaders relinquish control and empower their people. Asking someone to do more, be more creative, create innovation, accelerate change, etc., without empowering them doesn’t work.

  1. Love

Love requires being focused on others. To love is to will the good of another. It may seem counterintuitive. Love is relational and goes beyond the work. It is the ability to accept others for who they are and help them become who they can become (without judging them).

So, which one do you think is the most important to being an extraordinary leader? What is the number one thing missing that keeps good leaders from being great?

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