This is what makes leading people so difficult – we all have different perceptions of good and bad leadership. An autocratic leader could be regarded as decisive, bold and focussed by one person / culture, yet regarded as bossy, headstrong and demanding by another.

What I have found interesting in recent weeks is that the perception of good leadership is variable, and an action by a leader can be regarded as good, average or poor depending on 5 crucial factors:

  • external environment,
  • internal culture,
  • timing,
  • circumstance the action was taken, and
  • the people affected.

Each of the factors above can result in wildly different ways in which leadership can be regarded across countries, businesses and teams.

 Focus Less on Labels and More on Actions

Rather than focus on a definition of leadership, or whether leadership is good or bad – if you want to develop as a leader, focus on the actions and behaviours of leaders and consider how they would be interpreted against the 5 crucial factors above.

I am interested to learn what actions / behaviours you respect and admire in your leaders. In short, what actions and behaviours do you regard as good leadership?

Why do this?

Because a list of desired traits or good leadership definitions doesn’t provide us with any behaviours that we can replicate or copy to try and become good leaders ourselves. Discovering the behaviours that good leaders practise can help those that want to be good leaders themselves.

One recent management group that I worked with considered these three traits as their top 3:

  1. Ability to translate the big picture into meaningful words / tasks for the team.
  2. Listen to my point of view and take action where necessary.
  3. Ability to make hard decisions, even if information is not complete.

Not only are these behaviours identifiable (they can be seen by the people that work for them), they are also measurable (subjectively or empirically).

Your top 3 traits could be very diffierent, based on the experiences that you have, the environment you work in and what you have seen others demonstrate that was regarded as successful.

So – right here, right now, in the business that you are currently working in – what are the actions / behaviours that you most respect / admire in a good leader?

Are those behaviours that you also need to improve within yourself?

Alternatively, what behaviours, when missing, cause you the most angst as a follower?


What is one simple little action that you will put in place to make those one of those behaviours a reality?