Great leaders occasionally have doubts in their leadership. Poor leaders never do. How do you know if you are a poor leader? Rate how often you demonstrate the following traits.
0 = Never, 1 = Rarely, 2 = Sometimes, 3 = Frequently, 4 = Always
- Do you share your vision?
- Do you act with integrity?
- Do you possess curiosity?
- Do you give credit, take blame?
- Do you express empathy?
- Do you demonstrate flexibility?
- Are you change oriented?
- Does your customer or end user feel valued?
- Do you invest in your team?
- Do you accept responsibility?
- Do you act with confidence?
- Do you act with honesty?
- Do you delegate important projects?
- Are you an effective communicator?
- Would people say you have a positive attitude?
- Are you creative?
- Do you trust your intuition?
- Can you maintain focus?
- Do you respect others?
- Do you act with humility?
- Are you effective in getting necessary results?
Add up the total points you gave yourself.
- If you scored 63 or higher, you are probably a strong leader. Development is a never-ending process; so make sure you continue to invest in yourself.
- If you scored between 52 and 63, you are either on your way to becoming a stronger leader or something has caused you to doubt your abilities. Ask others to rate you and see how the scores compare, then take appropriate action.
- If you scored below 52 points, congratulations on your honesty. However, your self-assessed leadership could be categorized as poor. Review your answers and determine where you could make immediate improvements. Solicit feedback from others, gather suggestions and make a plan of action to improve.
If identifying poor leadership were hard, assessments like the one above would be commonplace. However, it is not hard. You know poor leadership when you see it. It’s the opposite of excellent leadership. Or is it? Can you identify poor leadership when you don’t see it? It’s more rational than, “Whatever the other side does is poor, and whatever our side does is great.” Moreover, it’s not about “feeling led,” although that is part of it.
Let’s acknowledge that leadership is a continuum between ineffective and effective, with effective being the accomplishment of desired results. These are value neutral. Results are either achieved or not. What colors the spectrum is a myriad of leadership traits. Depending on your point of view maybe only one counts, or there could be 101 that you deem essential.
The definition of these traits varies based on your bias. This is where value judgements begin. Brutal dictators may have effective, albeit chilling, results and a plethora of seemingly positive leadership qualities, but you would be hard pressed to call them good leaders. Conversely, you may know someone who is beloved, charismatic, honest and empathetic, but ineffective in achieving results. You feel conflicted following them. They are nice, but not a leader.
Leadership is not binary; it requires nuance and the visibility of several common characteristics. The traits themselves will vary by culture and organization, but if you consider the elements that most reasonable people believe constitute a good leader most of the time you’ll find; Confidence, Honesty, Delegation, Communication, Humor, Commitment, Attitude, Creativity, Intuition, Focus, Respect, and Humility.
Theoretically, leadership could be mapped when you pair the level of effectiveness with the consistent use of key attributes. An excellent leader is one who is effective in achieving results and demonstrates consistent use of leadership traits. A poor leader is ineffective in achieving results and inconsistent in their use of leadership traits. Everything else in between is gray and will depend on the circumstances of your environment.
Your actions and decisions should always move you closer to excellent leadership and as far away from poor leadership as you are capable of traveling.