12 Most Wizardly “W” Traits of Great Leaders
“More firm and sure the hand of courage strikes, when it obeys the watchful eye of caution.” ~ James Thomson, Scottish Poet
We are wrapping up this 12 Most ABCs of Leadership series. In fact, I might go the “zipper route” and do a single XYZ post for the climatic conclusion. Thanks to all the readers who have stuck around and even provided their “favorite” from each list.
Let’s get Wack with some W’s…
I recently attended an internal leadership call and one of our topics of discussion was “wackiness.” OK, nobody said that word. However, we want to stay diligent in our efforts to keep a fun corporate culture. We have musicians, wine connoisseurs, robotics/genome “enthusiasts, and many more sub-cultures within our organization.
We want to encourage, and in some cases celebrate, the wackiness and diversity within our company.
Having an open door policy is outstanding. However, that still requires employees to walk through that door with their concerns, their stories of successes, or their acknowledgements of failures.
The stronger leader is walking the halls, knocking on other doors and cubicles. Just do not be like Peter’s bosses when walking the halls! Develop a genuine interest in your employees and you just might be blessed as a result.
Great leaders are diligent and discerning as they monitor the health of their organizations — they review external factors like customer experience and market conditions. They also pay attention to internal factors like morale and complacency.
English author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, is credited with the expression “The pen is mightier than the sword.” In addition to the capability of setting pen to paper to establish a corporate vision, great leaders are also weaponed with experience, wisdom, patience, strategic aggression, and spirits of compromise.
Whether it the tidal wave of success, the storm-tossed seas of economic uncertainty, the avalanche of great and not-so-great product reviews, or the sun-scorched desolation of the “where do we find our next client” desert — great leaders are weatherproofed for all occasions. Every company goes through these trials and the great leaders know when to let the cool breeze of success refresh the organization… and when to batten down the hatches to protect the organization from catastrophe.
We like being around people who make us feel good about ourselves and restore our faith in simple goodness and humanity. We may be a society of desensitized cynics, but most of us still admire wholesome behavior. Great leaders need to be above reproach, to lead by example, and to help us find that silver lining sometimes.
Willful can have a negative connotation when describing bullheaded, headstrong and mulish behavior. However, great leaders can be willful by adamantly supporting their employees’ ideas, determinedly working through barriers to success and unyieldingly pursuing the company vision.
One of my favorite expressions (based upon Proverbs 15:22) is “a wise man has many counselors.” Wisdom often comes through our experiences; however, wisdom can also come from the experiences of others. It is always best to leverage the experience of others versus rely strictly on firsthand knowledge.
Wise leaders assemble leadership teams where the collective wisdom becomes greater than the sum of all of its parts.
Ever been in a tension-filled project or leadership meeting? Perhaps you were captive audience to the clash of two polarizing personalities. Did you have that one person in the room who let out some timely witticism that effectively defused a volatile situation?
Every organization can benefit from a witty personality capable of restoring our perspective with a little light-heartedness.
Guy Kawasaki wrote an entire book on enchantment. We all want to be enchanted with our lives, our jobs, and our consumer experiences. Great leaders are wizardly in their ability to weave a vibrant corporate culture that believes in slaying dragons together to gain the happy endings.
Imagine if more leaders adopted Steve Jobs’ philosophy: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”
Be wonderful. Then team with others to do something even more wonderful.
Abraham Lincoln had the right ambitions: “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.”
Rather than demand that you are worthy, let your deeds determine your worthiness!
What is your favorite “W” trait? I admire several of them. I could choose like Solomon to be granted wisdom. Or, I could simply wake up each day and try to be worthy of the trust, respect, and love from the people closest to me.
Meanwhile, do not be a warthog with these traits: Wailing, warped, wasteful, wavering, weak-minded, wearisome, whiny, wicked, witless, wonky, wounding, and wretched.
Featured image courtesy of jenni from the block licensed via Creative Commons.