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What Makes a Great Leader? 

By Alessandra Ceresa

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

These are a few words from the wise. Being a leader does not mean ruling with an iron fist; that is a ruler. A leader is something different, something that many aspire to be, but few actually achieve.

Being a ‘boss’ requires you to be a leader. Everyone knows that growing a business takes a great team, and a great leader builds and creates a great team. Even though the characteristics of a leader have not changed, the roles and expectations of a leader in today’s business world are evolving.

Key Characteristics of a Leader:

  • Honesty
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Ability to Inspire
  • Positivity
  • Intuition
  • Creativity

Any boss can have any number of these attributes, but only a leader has that special ingredient, the ability inspire.

The ability to inspire action in others is critical, because when you inspire others to commit to your ‘why’, you not only have a team that works hard, but loves every minute of it.

So, what kinds of actions does a leader exemplify?

  • Collaborates: A leader works with the team to create something more. Two brains are better than one, right?
  • Welcomes and encourages ideas: You never know when someone might have a great idea. Encouraging team members to share their ideas not only makes them feel valued, but also gives them the chance to contribute. When people invest their ideas, they are more likely to commit themselves on a deeper level.
  • Openly shares information: A business cannot flourish if no one is working together, and everyone is on a different page. Be honest, because the standard that you hold for yourself will trickle down to the team.
  • Allows flexibility within the team: This can come in any number of forms. When employees are happy, they accomplish more. When they accomplish more, a business grows. Giving your team the flexibility to manage their time, take on other rolls, and assume more responsibility. This is a great way to illustrate trust, as well as inspire action and commitment.

These are my views on why a leader is great, but I wanted to get some other opinions. I went ahead and asked a number of different GreenRope team members for their take on all of this. This is what they said:

“A good leader gets down in the trenches with his team, and works with his team to push that boulder up the hill, rather than just giving direction. Great leaders are excellent communicators and honest with their team.” – Jason Kessel

“A good leader primarily is someone that leads by example - cheesy but it works. The Braveheart-type of person, where they are first to lead the charge in whatever direction we are going. I know I posted it before, but this picture says it all…really.” – Ryan Bahl

“A good leader is sincere, and understands the relevance of everyone in their organization; they are a good listener. A leader is also willing to take the appropriate risk at the right time, and also understands the importance of relationships and culture and how to consistently challenge to get the most out of their employees in a productive, positive way.” – Bjorn DeBoer

“Someone who knows how to get the most out of the talent of the people he’s/ she's hired and puts them in positions to succeed.” – Dan Watkins

After asking them their views on leadership, I went even further to ask them about why they think GreenRope’s CEO, Lars, is an exceptional leader. This is what I found:

“I believe empowerment comes from belief and trust, instead of fear and belittlement, and Lars has always acted upon the former. I can recall a few times where I've committed a gaffe, and in many situations with other supervisors/ bosses/ CEOs it would be ensued by a berating phone call or conversation. Lars calmly discusses the matter, as a means to build consciousness and awareness, to instill the faith that next time things will be done correctly or with more attentiveness. I have learned more from this than anything in the past few years. Most importantly, he exemplifies the qualities that he would like to see others perform, and in leading by example it provides a means of manifesting that positivity organically within each person.” – Darius

“The thing that always struck me about Lars is his "teach a person to fish" philosophy, and how he extends that to employees.  Lars always seems to know the correct degree of freedom to give employees so that they can make good decisions for the company without having to have Lars micromanage them.” – Dan Watkins

“Lack of narcissism, coupled with a true understanding of the business and technical elements of the business he's running, and a vision of the marketplace that people standing on the shoulders of giants still fail to grasp.” – Tom Suchy

“Lars isn't an arm chair leader. He gets involved with the down and dirty. He isn't off playing golf while the rest of us slave away. He's open to feedback and everyone gets to contribute ideas that help shape the future of the company.” – Lyle Hopkins

These were just a few of the comments that I collected from the team. Needless to say, GreenRope’s CEO truly embodies true leadership, and I believe that many ‘bosses’ should take note. There is a reason that GreenRope is consistently on the up and up, and a lot of that has to do with the networked structure of the business.

In 2014, I believe we are going to see a movement in this direction, where bosses are leaders and not simply, just ‘the boss’. As the millennials continue to take on jobs, they expect more from what they do, and want to feel like they are contributing and accomplishing something great.

The world is no longer a place where a boss sits in his top floor office looking down upon his staff; instead, he sits with the staff and works collaboratively to grow a successful business! 

Stay tuned for the last post in our leadership series explaining how CRM can help a boss become a leader. 

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