What Kind of Leader Do They Want? by Jim Johnson

leadership qualities

As you may know, I’m working on a certificate in Executive Leadership from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.  In a recent lecture, Dr. Mike Crant shared the findings of a survey conducted by Kouze & Posner (“The Leadership Challenge”).  The survey was seeking to discover what 20,000 people thought were the characteristics of leaders they admired. In other words, if they could create their own leader, what would they be like?  Here’s what the survey uncovered:


18,000 respondents said they wanted honesty in their leader.  It was really important to them that they could trust their leader and that he/she had integrity.  Crant says that this is good news for leaders.  Why?  A person can control this.  We can choose to be honesty and trustworthy.  “The extent to which you are viewed as an honest person who manages with ethics and integrity strongly influences how people perceive you.”


People want to follow leaders who have a vision for where they are leading the team/organization.  There is an agenda (and it is communicated!).  Forward-thinking leaders have initiative and ideas for improvement – they are out to make something greater.


People want their leaders to have passion and be positive.  It’s true!  Energy and enthusiasm are contagious.  You’ve heard the saying “speed of the leader, speed of the team”.  Followers will copy the attitude and actions of their leader (like it or not).  Leaders are role models.  Just be sure, leader, that you are positively modeling positive attitudes and actions.


Dr. Crant says that followers want to trust leaders’ judgment and technical skills to make good decisions.  A leader has to “know their stuff”.


49% of those surveyed stated that they wanted their leaders to be fair.  Fair treatment increases motivation.  On the flip side, Dr. Crant states that unfair treatment leads to people to do undesirable things.


People want their leaders to be focused on them.  Who wouldn’t want a leader who has the attitude of putting his/her followers in a position to succeed?  This type of leader worksto remove hurdles for his/her team.

Dr. Crant summarizes this lesson by stating that leaders will build credibility by keeping these desirable characteristics in mind.  But note this:  the survey used in this study did not measure the effectiveness of a leader.  It only focused on traits that were admired by followers.

So, how you do think you stand up to these characteristics?  More importantly, how would your team evaluate you in this?  

10 Things Really Amazing Employees Do

by Kevin Daum

As a longtime employer of dozens, I was always grateful to have good employees. It takes a lot to recruit and maintain top talent. Every once in a while special employees come along that just really seem to get it. They drive the entire company forward in ways that were unimaginable. Advancement and reward is never an issue for these rock stars because they understand the power of cause and effect, and only a worthy company can retain them and afford them.

Here are 10 things amazing employees seem to do effortlessly. Here’s how to help your great employees be even more amazing.

1. Enthusiastically Learn All Aspects of Business

They understand they’re part of something bigger and more worthwhile than just their job. They look to learn other areas of the business and be fluent in finance and management so they’ll positively impact multiple areas of the company.

What you can do: Invest in material and seminars on business basics like accounting, marketing, and management so all employees have easy access to learn and grow.

2. Steward the Company

They treat the company as if it were theirs. They look to make prudent decisions about expenses and opportunities with the long-term future of the company in mind. They easily assess risk vs. reward, selflessly when making decisions.

What you can do: Be transparent in your business. The more you share your financials and philosophy, the easier it is for employees to make the right decisions.

3. Generate Viable Opportunities

You don’t have to be in sales or marketing to help a company grow. Strong networkers from all divisions see company growth as a collective effort and constantly keep their eyes open for ways to more than pay for themselves.

What you can do: Make sure all your employees understand your value proposition and can easily identify opportunities. Then reward them openly for their efforts.

4. Resolve Issues Before They Are Issues

My favorite days running companies are when I notice positive change in procedure when I was totally unaware of the need for change. Amazing employees are always looking to improve systems proactively, and they do.

What you can do: Communicate a clear written vision of where the company is going and encourage initiative so people feel safe and empowered to make change.

5. Tell It Like It Is

Amazing employees understand that hiding bad news helps no one. They find kind ways to bring uncomfortable information to the surface, but they DO bring it to the surface. They tell people what’s necessary before major damage is done.

What you can do: Foster an open communication environment where people are not only given permission to tell the truth, but also absolutely required.

6. Demonstrate High Standards, With Low Maintenance

I always feel relaxed when I can trust an employee to perform a task to the same high standards I would expect from myself. Not all can do this without constant attention or difficulty. Amazing employees quietly drive their own high standards.

What you can do: Set the example and the tone for high performance with minimal drama. Publicly reward those who can execute in the same manner.

7. Grow Themselves, and Others

They not only drive their own career but they inspire others to do the same. These employees lead by example in how to advance without creating animosity or resentment. They see and create their perfect future, and also bring others along.

What you can do: Encourage personal development and peer growth through dedicated group time and learning for career advancement.

8. Research, Apply, and Refine

No employer expects people to know everything. In this fast changing world, I choose employees who will learn over those who know. The best employee proactively explores options, takes action and then improves without direction from the top.

What you can do: Invest time in exploration and expansive thinking. Encourage people to explore deep visionary projects with time and reward for the findings.

9. Stimulate Happiness

Amazing employees aren’t always sunshine and roses. They do know how to keep it real. But they understand the dynamics of people, stress, and the blend of work, life and friendship. They are self-aware and able to direct their own path that brings out their best with family, friends and career. They exude positive energy even in stressful times and share it around, making for a happier office.

What you can do: Create an environment where people can openly express themselves. Encourage them to work hard in fulfilling ways and achieve their dreams.

10. Facilitate Amazing Bosses

Amazing employees make me grow as an employer. They self-confidently get their value and help me get mine. They make me want to be worthy of working with somebody of such high caliber, without ever saying it directly of course.

What you can do: Make effort to genuinely show appreciation for any of the behaviors above so people feel their value and will grow to full potential. Then they will do the same for you.

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An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies. @awesomeroar


Leadership Quicksand


This saying is so true! Nothing will sink a leader faster than making assumptions:

* about a colleague without knowing any facts…
* about an employee without listening, interacting, engaging…
* about a boss without asking for clarification…

In my experience, assumptions often lead to drama – and I hate drama. Someone assumes something (many times, we assume the worse), they share this assumption with someone else, and then the drama is off to the races. Assumptions lead to unhealthy/unprofessional conversations which lead to drama which leads to no productivity which leads to…

When assumptions lead to conversations with others who are not directly or indirectly involved with an issue, this become gossip. Far too often, leaders and coworkers begin to paint a picture of another employee that is not the truth. “Oh, that’s just how they are.” Have you heard that before? I have. Usually, it is said by a person who has spent little to no time with the subject, but they have it on “good authority” that…

Assumptions, gossip, back-biting – it’s all unprofessional, hurtful, and unfair. How can you combat it?

1. Chose not to assume. If someone approaches you and wants to “fill you in” on someone else and the conversation takes a harmful-not-helpful turn, you don’t have to stand there and listen. Politely excuse yourself. Or you can take a direct leadership position and say, “I’m not comfortable with this conversation. If you feel there is a real issue here, perhaps you should take it up directly with them.”

2. Refocus. If you are a manager and a team member of yours approaches you to talk negatively about another person on your team, nip this in the bud immediately. Here’s a tactic I learned years ago. Once the person is done speaking, simply look them in the eye and say, “You know, it’s my responsibility to address performance issues with each of you on my team. It’s not appropriate for me to talk with you about someone else’s performance. That’s not fair. If you would like to talk about performance, let’s talk about yours. But we can’t talk about that person’s performance. That’s my job, not yours. So if you would like to talk about how you can improve, I’m all ears.”

This works so well. Note: if this person brings a severe issue to mind (i.e. HR-related, harassment, etc.), you will need to take a different course than I just laid out. The refocusing plan above is for the petty things that folks may bring you.

3. Be known for encouragement. Do others see you as someone who builds up and encourages others? Are you known for quickly praising your team? If you’re a “negative Nelly”, then work to change. Your team will grow if you encourage them.

4. Keep short accounts. If you notice performance in a team member that is not meeting the standard, start coaching. Don’t assume they don’t care. Is something happening in their personal life that is affecting them? Sit down and talk with them. Hold them accountable. Listen. Coach. Counsel. They will get the message that you care, you are concerned, and that the standards for results are still there. If you ignore or avoid issues, those issues will only grow.

Your team is worth your best efforts in helping them succeed. Your leadership is marked by how well your team performs. High performance requires constant tuning, training, development, challenge, communication, and heart.

What is Transparent Leadership?


by Peter Stark

In the past, management kept secrets from employees and decisions were made behind closed conference room doors. We are living in an entirely different world today where transparent leadership is not just an option, but is critical to the success of the company.

To be transparent as a leader has many different meanings, but the one that works best for us is that transparency is consistently behaving in a way that is predictable. This means no surprises. I believe that most leaders set out to be transparent, but it can be hard to measure if you truly are a transparent leader.

Here’s a checklist we’ve put together to help you assess if you’re on the right track:

__ Are you candid, honest and do you genuinely express your thoughts and opinions?
__ Does the message you are delivering remain the same, regardless of the audience?
__ Do you tell the truth?
__ When you can’t divulge information, do you let people know why you can’t disclose the information at that time?
__ Do you consistently keep commitments?
__ Do you handle your own defeats well, owning them and not blaming others?
__ Do you ask good questions, listen to the answers and remain open to new ideas?
__ Do you value the feedback of others?
__ Do you frequently ask others working with you, “How am I doing?” or, “What could I do to better support you?”

Today, transparent leadership is no longer just an option for organizations. If your employees don’t already know the truth about your organization, it is only a matter of time before they will. No matter how hard leaders try to hide the truth or cover up unpleasant or awkward situations, the truth will always surface. Reality is reaching employees faster than ever before.

Given this reality, the best approach is to be transparent; act ethically and talk openly at all times.

Transparent leaders are:

– Approachable and treat employees at every level within the organization with humility, interest and respect
– Good communicators, keeping their employees informed with the right information at the right time. When they cannot answer employees questions, they let them know why they can’t respond at this time
– Accessible. Employees know how to reach them for support
– Consistent and predictable. They demonstrate integrity by “talking the talk” and “walking the walk” on a daily basis
– Good at sharing the “big picture” with employees, helping them connect the dots between their job and the overall success of the organization
– Reliable. Employees trust them to do what they say they will do
– Open to feedback about their own performance and open to employees’ ideas and opinions

Transparent leaders are able to lead great companies and achieve great results because, over time, they have built solid relationships based on their integrity and character. They are reliable, predictable and committed to serving and supporting their team. As such, they are trusted and easy to follow, allowing them to achieve their goals, if not change the world.

Peter Barron Stark Companies is a nationally recognized management consulting company that specializes in employee engagement surveys, executive coaching, and leadership and employee training. For more information, please visit http://www.peterstark.com.