What does good leadership look like to you? 

Many struggle to find the right words to describe leadership but when in situation where leadership is bad, you usually know right away. 

Defining Leadership.

So, let’s take a stab at defining leadership.  There are plenty of leadership experts around the globe who would offer various definitions, but for our purposes we’ll focus on two:

Did you know that 57% of people have quit a job because of their boss? (Source: DDI https://www.ddiworld.com/solutions/leadership-development)

That statistic may not be surprising given that we’ve all either had ourselves or have been close to someone who worked with a really bad leader.  And we know how negative an experience working for or with someone you don’t like or respect can be.  Over time, it certainly will take a toll on your work and mental health. 

10 Critical Good Leadership Behaviors.

Good leadership looks like what you do, not necessarily what you say. Here are 10 critical leadership behaviors:

  1. Motivating and inspiring others to be their best and to deliver their best work
  2. Developing others to continuously learn and grow
  3. Understanding the way the broader organization or industry works – this is extremely important because no person, team or department exists in a vacuum; leadership that understands how the organization delivers services, generates revenue, the ins and outs of the industry, etc. is better positioned to make a meaningful impact
  4. Accomplishing primarily through influence, not just “power” – this applies to influencing at all levels and directions, including supervisees, peers, and more senior stakeholders
  5. Knowing when to follow instead of lead– leaders often don’t need to nor should they be deep subject matter experts (SME) on a topic which means that in many cases someone else will know more or be able to solve a problem faster; the best leaders are able to recognize these situations, step back,  and allow others to take the reigns
  6. Being decisive
  7. Advocating for your organization, function discipline and/or team
  8. Navigating by a solid moral compass or set of values; having integrity and respect for others
  9. Holding yourself and others accountable
  10. Communicating, communicating, and communicating some more- Often leadership is the sole source of information and truth for those around them, particularly their supervisees which is why it is imperative that leadership clearly and repeatedly communicate; this is the surefire way to confirm and reconfirm that everyone has the same shared understanding and minimizes errors and misinterpretation

Now you may be asking yourself – if good leadership looks like all of the behaviors previously identified, then what does bad leadership look like?  Quite simply, poor leadership is the opposite.  And it is important to emphasize that poor leadership can have detrimental effects from the demoralization of team members to the downfall of entire companies.

Related Article: Self Reflection Can Make You a Better Leader


Actions You Can in Poor Leadership Situations.

So, what can you personally do if you ever find yourself in a poor leadership situation?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be clear about what good leadership looks like and feels like to you – what do you need from leadership? What is unacceptable?
  • Communicate your needs and desires (respectfully) to leadership – this can be done at any stage….during an interview for a new job, while you are onboarding, during your annual review, or any time really
  • If you are not getting what you need from leadership, determine whether there are other options to meet your needs
  • As a last resort, if poor leadership is weighing you down and you’ve tried everything in your power to address it, then you may have to think about making a change to a different team or organization.

Final Thoughts.

Whether you are a leader now yourself, aspire to be a leader, or you report into someone else – good leadership has both tangible and intangible aspects.  The key is being clear about what good leadership looks like and feels to you, and holding yourself and others accountable for it.

Additional Resources:

1. What are the Characteristics of a Good Leader? – Center for Creative Leadership https://www.ccl.org/blog/characteristics-good-leader/

2. Are You a Manager or a Leader? – Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckswoboda/2020/03/02/are-you-a-manager-or-a-leader/?sh=70d40f9e123e


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