What Does A Meaningful Leader Look Like?

Kate Dames
Teal Times
Published in
3 min readJul 18, 2016

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Photo courtesy of www.unsplash.com

Deep down, we all yearn to be seen and heard. We strive to become an authority figure, whether it is as the CEO of a big organization, or the cherished father of a child. But what makes a meaningful and inspiring leader? And what do you need to become an everyday leader, as Drew Dudley talks about in his TED Talk about everyday leadership?

1. Ask questions

“Of course I follow the people, am I not their leader?”

The quote above as well as the TED talk both start with a question. That is no coincidence.

A meaningful leader is not afraid to ask meaningful questions, or admit that they don’t know all the answers.

A meaningful leader realizes that in order to be part of something bigger than yourself, you have to surround yourself with people that know more than you on a subject and you’re not afraid to admit it, or listen to other’s advice or opinions.

A meaningful leader realizes that you don’t have to know it all.

2. Listen and react

There has been a lot of emphasis lately on the importance of listening, and it continues to be one of the most important skills of a meaningful leader.

But listening without action, is the same as not listening at all.

A meaningful leader doesn’t only listen open-heartedly, they react and respond appropriately. They are not afraid to say “I don’t know yet”, or “I’ll have to think about it”, as they realize immediate action is often only addressing a symptom that is part of a bigger problem, and that a longterm solution requires careful consideration before taking action.

A meaningful leader takes time to think about what was said before responding, and she takes multiple viewpoints and perspectives into consideration before acting with confidence.

A meaningful leader takes careful, well thought through action at the appropriate time, action that empowers and supports and which is well within the comfort zone of the followers.

3. Be congruent

Actions speak louder than words. Meaningful leadership is about saying what you do, and doing what you say. It’s about living and demonstrating integrity at all times.

What you think, what you say, and what you do must at all time be aligned in order to demonstrate meaningful leadership.

People don’t do what you say, they do what you do. When you as a leader demonstrate integrity, you inspire people to follow you, rather than demanding their respect.

A meaningful leader understands that he teaches not knowledge and information, but values. And values can not be taught by words or be demanded, it is earned.

Everyday leadership demands honesty and vulnerability, not knowledge and power.

A meaningful leader, whether it is the head of a big organization or the head of a household, is someone who lives in integrity, leading by example and inspiring, not demanding. A meaningful leader listens to the needs of his people and reacts thoughtfully, after careful consideration.

So what will it take for you to become a meaningful leader?

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Originally published at branded.me.

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Kate Dames
Teal Times

A cup of fresh ideas for old problems. Integrating technology, agile, gamification & lean to make workplaces more human, productive & fun. www.funficient.com