Leadership — Challenging What Makes A Great Leader

Danny Denhard
Nov 1 · 3 min read

Visionaries, accountable, lead from the front, powerful, strong, knowledgeable, inspire, are all words and phrases we think of when people say what a leader is.

If you have ever played team sports or worked in a great team, there is not just one leader, there are many leaders.
They come in all different shapes and sizes and often all lead in different but typically inspiring ways.

The best player can be a leader but rarely makes the best leader.
A specialist can be someone to look up to and appreciate however put into a leadership role and their powers can be diluated.

When I started out, seniority = a leader. The owner, the founder, the director, the person in the glass office was the leader. (well you were led to believe that) Thankfully this is changing and the understanding of a leader is very different and ever evolving.

Team leaders don’t have be senior — Patty McCord

(Former HR Lead at Netflix)

The older I become, the more companies I have worked in, with and advised, the less I believe what I used to think or was conditioned into.
Especially when it comes down to a “strong leader”.

A leader can be a colleague on the same level, they can more senior but they have qualities others do not or a temperament others do not.
A calm head is often a skill most traditional leaders do not have and is respected when discussing qualities with the team.

What I have also come to realise is; what I like in a leader, is very different to what you or your team might want from a leader.

We are shaped differently but there are themes we all look for.

Some of the best leaders I have worked with are actually very different to the words I used, they are:
- Quiet
- Thoughtful
- Detailed

These leaders are not at the front of everything, they do not have to be seen making every decision and when the time comes to be strong and forthright they are there.

The leaders that have to be seen and heard constantly are not leading.
They do not trust those around them or worst still, like the sound of their own voice.

The best leaders I have worked with or collaborated with have had the following three skills that always surface:

  1. — Crystal Clear Communications —
    Clear and concise in person, presentation or in email. It tends to get better every time the business grows and is simple at every step. Something that also tends to ring true, is the rule of three, rarely less than three things, never too many more than three things.
  2. — Ability To Paint The Future —
    Vision is something some leaders have to really work on, however, it is something that every good leader has an ability to draw out simply, a clear way to communicate it and a way for others to sound excited and want to discuss it.
    If you are not getting a little excited by the future then it is not going to be a please few months ahead.
  3. — Trust & Decisions —
    Trust should be a given in a leader, however a great leader has great trust in those around them and allows those who are trusted to make decisions and regularly allows those around them to make the biggest decision.
    Good and great leaders want to develop those around them and empower the team and individuals around them.
    Trust comes from respect and good decisions are respected, this behaviour is often seen and mimicked and traits I have seen in all of the very top leaders. If leaders do not empower and develop, the trust, respect and belief in your vision goes very quickly and impacts everything around you.

Let me know what makes a great leader to you.

Danny Denhard

Written by

Director Of Growth at JustGiving. Career in Product, marketing and growth in growth based companies. I write a weekly newsletter over at dannydenhard.com/weekly

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