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  • Writer's pictureJonnette Del Mundo

How to Be a Better Leader

If you were to build a house, you would begin with a blueprint. This blueprint proves helpful because it contains more than directions on how to build a house. It also describes the finished home.

So, what does this have to do with leadership?

Last month I asked an audience of leaders to tell me the characteristics of an ideal leader. Their answers were (in the order collected):

A good listener



Shows appreciation

A visionary

Role model








Team building

Clarity of purpose

Problem solver

Attitude of service

Leads by example


Willing to act without complete knowledge

Understands followers


Empowers other people

Adapts to change.

This is essentially the same list I receive from other audiences when I ask this question. From this comes some valuable insights:

  1. Notice what the list contains. All of these characteristics relate to the human side of leadership. That's interesting because I often hear people minimize this side of leadership with terms like "soft" or "touchy-feely." Applying these characteristics requires more strength than not.

  2. Notice what the list excludes. Absent from this list (and all lists from other programs) are characteristics such as stern, mean, serious, short-tempered, vindictive, strict, angry, harsh, punitive, controlling, violent, or ruthless. And that's interesting because many popular representations of leadership emphasize at least one of these "hard" characteristics. These characteristics are the refuge of those who lack the strength or the skills to apply the human side of leadership.

  3. How about you? How would you rate yourself as a leader compared to the list of positive characteristics? If you were to survey the people who report to you, how would they describe your leadership? Would they list features from the "soft" list or from the "hard" list? Could you become more effective by improving upon any of the "soft" characteristics? And how about the other leaders in your organization? Do they truly maximize human potential?

People want leaders who treat them with genuine compassion, courtesy, and respect. They want leaders who help them become more successful. They want leaders who inspire them with a vision for a better world and show them how to go there.


Check out Mike Acker's new book on Public Speaking: Speak with Confidence, published by WILEY.

A breakthrough to develop confidence in speaking, leadership, and life. A follow-up book to his best-selling book, Speak with No Fear.

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