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You’ll Always Remember A Bad Leader March 6, 2013

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

Second in a series on Leadership. First one here.

I’m focused on leadership this week, in part, due to a series of good talks on the topic last month at American Farm Bureau’s annual Joint National Leadership Conference. It was easier for the Arizona Farm Bureau leadership team to attend since this time it was hosted in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I was struck by one speaker’s comment: “You’ll always remember a bad leader.” It’s true. I can rattle off all my bad/tough leaders and bosses over the last 20+plus years of my career. I am pleading the 5th … but I can remember them.

Why is the “bad leader” so common? He or she is more common than he or she should be. With all the lessons in leadership we have access to, especially by simply reading and listening to great insights on the topic, you’d think we’d improve.

Leadership (Photo credit: glennharper)

And, just because someone holds a position of leadership, it doesn’t mean that they should. But there are ways to look for good leaders. In fact, those that lead, don’t have to be great; but they should be good.

Some things I look for in a leader (and a few others I learned from American’s latest Joint National Leadership Conference in Scottsdale).

1. Passion, not position is what gives great leaders courage. So look for passion in someone. Do they have the potential to lead?

2. Communicate regularly with your team or group; but don’t be the crazy person that puts events to memory and later throws up the bad stuff as a condemnation. Plus, simply engaging with your team and asking for their ideas boosts the dialogue and idea generation.

3. Be honest with yourself, be honest in life be honest with your team members. This is so lacking in so many leaders today, especially in the political arena.

4. Do you have a vision? The Bible tells us that we’ll perish without one. So true. Sometimes people just want the top spot for the glory of it and the fringe benefits. But if they can’t offer a vision for the team and organization, no course for their tomorrows will be set.

5. What’s your character and integrity meter reading? Yes, you’re intelligent, affable, persuasive, and savvy. People are drawn to you. You’ve got it all. But if you’re prone to rationalizing unethical behavior based upon current and long-term plans, you’ll implode and the gig will be found out. Think Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods (sure he’s still got a great golf swing and …) and others.

6. Is it all about you? Then you won’t be a good (and certainly not great) leader. Makes me think of Navy Commandar Abrashoff said about leading his ship of sailors. He put them first (See Monday’s Post). A true leader puts his team above others. As hard as this can be to do in the corporate world, the reality is that if you want to inspire a team, they’ve got to be a priority above yourself.

7. Show a little love. Well, okay maybe grace is a better word. I believe empathy, humility and kindness are signs of leadership strength, not
weakness and what I’ve always noted in great leaders.

These are my top 7 of what I look for in a great leaders. There are other attributes; but these truly shine and make a leader great.

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