We often equate leadership qualities today with qualities that are actually antithetical to good leadership. The bluster, brashness, and bragging often associated with leadership point to weakness, not strength, when it comes to leaders.
What makes a leader?
Watching the coverage this week of former President Bush’s funeral, I was struck by several things.
President Bush exhibited a gracious approach to life. He understood the power of a simple thank-you. He understood the power of kindness. Not many leaders today, in business or in politics, understand this.
Secondly, his humility impressed me. All of his speeches formed humble pictures, many tributes to others. The elegance and grace of his words spoke to a time when American understood that political stance and divisive behavior moved aside post-election.
Lastly, his ability to connect with others, some of whom were former opponents, clearly spoke of leadership qualities.
I made a video discussing my impressions of these leadership characteristics and how business people may parlay them into qualities for success. Watch it below.
Business Leaders, Take Note
There are several lessons to be learned from this. CEOs and business leaders who understand the power of kindness and a gracious approach to their everyday interactions with their peers and subordinates tend to achieve better results than those who act dictatorially towards their staff.
Research bears this out. A study from the State University of New York at Binghamton demonstrates that leaders with a benevolent style tend to achieve stronger result than those with a dictatorial style. In other words, nice leaders finish first.
Are You Afraid to Be “Too Nice?”
I’ve heard that so often in my career – leaders saying they put on a mean mask to prevent others from thinking they are ‘too nice.’ They think that if subordinates view them as nice people, they will be viewed as weak and others take advantage of them.
St. Francis de Sales, a 17th century bishop of Geneva, Switzerland, wrote, “Nothing is as strong as gentleness, and nothing is as gentle as strength.” Be gentle, kind and firm, and you will achieve the best results. Consistent guidance, clear communication, and a kind approach to human relationships will always take you further than you anticipate.
Jeanne Grunert, president of Seven Oaks Consulting, is an award-winning direct and digital marketer with over 20 years of senior marketing leadership experience. She’s passionate about mentoring marketing managers and providing exceptional content marketing programs and services to Seven Oaks clients. Jeanne holds an M.S. (awarded with distinction) in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University and frequently lectures on content marketing, search engine optimization, and project management techniques.J