What do you think it takes to be a great leader? While there isn’t one magic formula, I do know when I’m around a great leader, I always want to give them the best version of myself. I never want to let them down. And, I think it’s because they do these three things:
- Earn and give respect
My grandmother, better known as “Avalanche” Blanche, used to say, “Treat those who have more than you as equals and those who have less as kings and queens.” Great leaders treat ALL people with respect and kindness regardless of their title or how much money they make or how successful they are. No matter who we are or how big we get good leaders know that everybody we encounter deserves respect. I have personally witnessed some of the greatest leaders of our time treat the cleaning crew the same way they treated someone on their executive team. With ultimate respect. It is a beautiful thing to witness and employees want to follow these leaders anywhere and everywhere.
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” — Harry S. Truman
- Give time to you
Despite being a pro wrestling bigger-than-life “bad guy” in the ring—yes, even stealing a cane from a little old lady and throwing it into the crowd—Moondog Mayne, my dad, was always a fan favorite. He turned on his character when in the ring, but when he came back to the locker room—sweaty and sometimes bloody—he shed his larger-than-life persona and title of professional athlete and became my dad and an incredible human being to many. After his show in the locker room, I would watch as he would kneel down on one knee to get face-to-face with a wide-eyed child who waited to meet him, and I even saw him take off the red boots he wore and hand them to a little old man who loved my father and was a big fan. Even outside the arena, Moondog was gratuitous with his time and attention, always willing to sign an autograph, take a picture or talk to someone. My dad gave me a great example of how you can make powerful connections with others by giving them your time and attention regardless of your title or stature. Even though it’s been almost 40 years since my father passed, people still tell me to this day about the time they met him.
- Have a desire to make you better
Great leaders truly want you to be the best version of yourself. They positively challenge you and accept nothing less than your best every single day. They trust you and, in return, you trust them which creates an environment where you simply don’t want to let each other down. You rise together. As they say, “the rising tide lifts all boats” and everyone is better for it. One of the best leaders I ever worked for challenged me every single day to do my best and to take risks. “You either succeed or you learn, there is no failure,” he would say. I trusted this man and to this day I would walk through walls for him.
Leadership is indeed many things but the best leaders know that they must completely understand the individual motivations of each one of their employees. To do this you have to earn and give respect, give of your time and have a desire to selflessly make each member of your team as good as they can possibly be and then some. Bottom line you have to lead!