What makes a great leader?

Drawing from my own personal experience, there is one exceptional leader who I will never forget. I was working with a multi-national bank at the time when the CEO with whom I indirectly reported to many years ago made this lasting impression upon me.

This CEO had a way of connecting and cutting through. His authenticity, energy and commitment to delivering his vision was palpable, you could feel it simply by entering the room. In practical terms, each week he would make a point of studying his staff, their recent achievements and visited every division (yes, every single division), acknowledging every staff member individually. His aptitude to authentically connect with his staff was nothing less than remarkable.

Of course, there was plenty of follow-ups and an open-door policy. His commitment to transparency has always remained with me. He also provided an approachable video update across the company via the corporate intranet every fortnight. Irrespective of his dress code or location, an update would be provided. During times of change across the company, he always made sure to re-assured the troops.

The sharing of small accolades and acknowledging wins amongst the team was also a trademark of his fantastic leadership. It’s with this authenticity and small dedication of time that he created a winning, positive, growth culture, perpetuating successes and delivering the greatest sense of Leadership.

So, what makes a great leader? Are they born or made? In this case, the CEO was certainly the visionary. But it was the team behind the CEO that positioned him for success. Concentrating on personal brand, concise and clear messaging as well as having the team brief the CEO in such great detail, are all factors that contributed to his personable connection with all of his team members.

I will never forget when he addressed us with a similar image to the one featured. He acknowledged that as the face of a successful company he was never alone, he explained that his success was a collective effort of his team and that he was “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

In 2016, Forbes magazine highlighted the following list of top 10 qualities of a great leader:

  1. Honesty
  2. Delegation
  3. Communication
  4. Confidence
  5. Commitment
  6. Positive Attitude
  7. Creativity
  8. Intuition
  9. Inspiration
  10. Approach

Although communication makes this list at number three, in my experience it is number one. The choice to surround yourself with experienced communication experts, able to execute via multiple channels and using various strategies can support a company’s overall success.

While it may be difficult to explain what makes a great leader, you will know when you meet one and they are never forgotten.