The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly.
Previously, we talked about the first four qualities of a good leader, based on the quotation above by Jim Rohn. Missed it? Read it here.
Now onto the last three.
Be humble, but not timid
Humility is another characteristic of a good leader. Just because you’re the CEO doesn’t mean you can treat everyone else like your slaves. Each person on your team plays an important part in turning your company into a success. Otherwise, then why not just do everything yourself? Always recognise your team’s contributions, and consider them as important as yourself. Because they are.
But of course, a good leader also must command respect from his subordinates. Just like kindness, humility can be abused by people working for you. Be wary of your humility turning into timidity. Don’t be intimidated by those trying to take advantage of you for their selfish agenda. Same as before, be staunch and unwavering. You’re still the leader, so show those sorts of people that they can’t do that to you.
Be proud, but not arrogant
Pride is a double-edged sword. It has its good side, and it has its bad side. The good side is that you feel good about yourself and your business. You worked hard for it, and now it’s going well because of your efforts. Being proud about that achievement is all good, until it goes all to your head.
Once that happens, you have now crossed over into the bad side of pride – arrogance. You think that because your efforts gave you these achievements, you now have the right to brag about yourself endlessly. Not only that, but you also treat everyone else like a lower being. You’re the only one who can be called “great”; all the rest are peasants.
Where will that attitude lead you? People will only have a reason to drag you down. Instead of looking up to you as someone that inspires and motivates them, people will hate you. If there’s one thing people really get mad about, it’s this – not being recognised for their contributions to your success. Arrogance is offensive, even if you are in a position to boast.
Not only that; arrogance also prevents you from giving your best. You’d think that because your business is so great, there’s nothing more to change. You’d be complacent in everything. But, think about what can happen. If your business will no longer improve on anything, the competition will. They’ll beat you to it, and before you know it they’ll have taken your place as the “greatest”.
So just don’t be on the bad side of pride. Use it moderately.
Have humour, but without folly
Humour is not exactly an essential characteristic of a good leader, but it certainly adds something good to the table. Being serious is good, and it really does allow you to reach your goals. But being too serious all the time is boring. The people you lead are people, not robots. As humans, we all need a good laugh, don’t we? Even once in a while, when it’s appropriate.
Humour does wonders. It can ease up many high-pressure situations, allowing you and your team to relax a bit. Being relaxed, in turn, helps you make better decisions. And of course, during times when you don’t need to be serious, humour makes good friends out of people. If your team knows you to have a good sense of humour, they will always look forward to talking with you. They’ll almost never dread a meeting.
But of course, only use humour when appropriate. Overdoing it will make your team think you’re not serious about anything at all. They will perceive that everything is a joke to you. And that isn’t good; worst case, your team may even abandon you altogether. Your team needs a committed leader, determined to reach the goals and aspirations of the business.
There you have it – Jim Rohn’s characteristics of good leaders. It really takes balancing these qualities, because too much of anything is a bad thing. It isn’t easy developing them, but with small steps, you’ll eventually acquire each and every one. So if you think there’s anything you lack, focus on developing that quality. Good leaders always seek to improve themselves every step of the way.
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