What Makes a Great Leader?

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At some point in our careers, most of us have undoubtedly scratched our heads and wondered,  “How on earth did this person obtain this leadership role?” The fact of the matter is that some people in leadership roles don’t belong there. Unfortunately, companies tend to promote employees who are highly trained and have excellent technical skills, but when these employees move into management, they often lack the soft skills necessary to motivate their teams. Hence, they don’t become great leaders. 

In this episode of In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century, hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon of Trusted Counsel speak with Dr. Hans Finzel about leadership. Dr. Finzel is an author, speaker and trusted authority in the leadership field and the author of 10 books on leadership. With a doctorate in leadership studies, Dr. Finzel is a respected teacher globally. In his new book “Top Ten Ways to Be a Great Leader,” he uses the letters in the word LEADERSHIP to present the 10 essential skills that he believes every new leader must master.

Don’t do what comes naturally - you’ll be a poor leader
Dr. Finzel’s fascination with leadership stems from a negative experience he had in the workplace as a young professional. “When I finished grad school and went to work, I was such an excited young man and I ended up having a boss who made my life miserable. I thought to myself, how can I have so much passion and vision and have this person stand in my way with their horrible leadership skills and, why are they the boss?! If I ever get the chance to be a leader of anything, I don’t want to be THAT kind of a leader. So, that’s when I started studying leadership.”

Dr. Finzel believes that many of us don’t lead well because we’ve simply had bad role models in both our personal and professional lives. “Therefore, when it becomes our turn to lead, we simply replicate those poor leadership skills that we’ve witnessed. Also, many of us don’t lead well because as human beings we’re naturally self-centered, and looking out for ourselves first.” Great leadership, according to Dr. Finzel is not about me -  it’s about we.    

If everyone was a leader, it would be a horrible world
Dr. Finzel defines leadership with one word: influence. “If you influence others, you are leading them.  Every time you influence someone to take an action, positive or negative, you are leading that person.”

Leadership according to Dr. Hans Finzel
In his new book, “Top Ten Ways to Be a Great Leader,” Dr. Finzel uses the 10 letters in the word LEADERSHIP to present the essential skills that he believes every new leader must master.

Here’s the run-down of the list for L-E-A-D-E-R-S-H-I-P:

“L” is for listen and learn
According to Dr. Finzel, listening and learning are the most important skills that every leader needs to possess. “People hate to follow leaders that never listen and they also don't like to follow leaders that aren't willing to learn.”  

“E” stands for emotional intelligence
Known as EQ – as opposed to IQ (which is our intelligence quotient). According to 2016 research conducted by LeadershipTraQ, performance success in leadership is one-third IQ and two-thirds EQ. Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (often interchanged) are the soft skills used in work and in life, such as interacting with a big room of people and having strong interpersonal relationships. A leader that possesses a high EQ is able to recognize their own and other people's emotions well, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately. The leader then uses the emotional information to guide his or her thinking and behavior, and manages or adjusts emotions to adapt to the situation. So it’s important to work on your EQ.

“A” is for accessibility
Today’s leaders need to be accessible, especially with millennials coming into the workforce who often demand accessibility to their leaders. Gone are the days when leaders could just hide out in their office all day or be on “that” executive floor, away from the rest of the group.

“D” is for determination
Good old-fashioned determination and hard work is the idea here. Don’t try to take short cuts at work because we live in an instant gratification society these days. At work, it just doesn’t work that way.      

“E” is for effective communication
It’s vital to communicate through various channels and multiple times. For instance, while you might think that as a new manager you’re doing a great job of communicating your department updates via email, email open rates are only at 15% (national rate for opens). So add other channels to communicate your department updates, such as team meetings and share the updates on the company intranet site as well.   

“R” is for resilience
Programs, plans and priorities change often these days, so it’s important to stop being so inflexible.

“S” is for servant attitude
Dr. Finzel’s definition of servant leadership is the idea of caring more about the good of the team than one’s own enrichment. He says to think of it in the following way. “If you help the people that work for you to accomplish their goals, then your own goals will be accomplished.” That’s a good thing.

“H” is for hands-off delegation
Dr. Finzel explains that the more intelligent and the more gifted you are, the harder it is to delegate. He believes that it’s part of a leader’s job to mentor others and to develop them. So if you delegate, and keep your “hands off,” you are mentoring.

“I” is for integrity
People will follow leaders who have integrity.

“P” is for the power of humility
Humility is not a weakness, but an attitude that recognizes that you are not the most important person. Great companies are led by humble leaders.

Follow and master these essential skills and you too will be on your way to becoming an exemplary leader.

Want to get the full conversation on “What Makes a Great Leader?” Stream this episode in the player below. You can also subscribe on iTunes to receive new episodes of In Process Podcast directly on your smartphone.