What Does Good Leadership Look Like?

It is a great question often asked in the context of trying to figure out what makes a manager a good leader. But I’d like to explore the question on a more personal level – What makes you a good leader in economic development? What are the specific behaviors you can master that will help you be an even better leader than you are today?

I think the exploration of this question is best done as a Community, so I want to encourage you to weigh in with your thoughts. Of course, it always helps to have a head start on any exercise. So, I will start the discussion by sharing 7 things you should be doing if you want to be a great leader. My list is based on what I learned during my career at Procter & Gamble. I was blessed to be in the presence and mentored by some absolutely amazing leaders like John Pepper, A.G. Lafley and Bob McDonald. So I have thought back over my 33-years and tried to capture a few timeless behaviors that if mastered put you o the lifelong path of being a great leader. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list. It is simply a start to what will hopefully be a great discussion. But, I hope you think it is a good start.

Here are links to my earlier posts on the subject of personal leadership.



Seven Behaviors You Need To Master To Be A Great Leader

  1. Recognize opportunities. You need to be able to connect the dots and create a vision of what can be realistically achieved. Then you need to challenge yourself and others to deliver results.
  2. Use a variety of resources effectively. One of my favorite ways of describing this skill is the ability to leverage OPM – Other People’s Money, OPR – Other People’s Resources, and OPK – Other People’s Knowledge.
  3. Prioritize your work and handle multiple priorities well. This requires you to overcome obstacles and take appropriate risks. It also means you have to be able to stop working on low priority initiatives so you have the time to handle the non-urgent but important tasks.
  4. Find ways to do things better. It is what I describe as working “on” the system and not just “in” the system. By figuring out how to improve how things are done, you leave a personal mark on everything you touch positively impacting everybody who follows in your footsteps.
  5. Know your work better than anybody else. Become a subject matter expert, the person others go to for insight. Get training if needed. But, no excuses. It builds trust and respect, critical leadership characteristics.
  6. Respect and leverage Management. Strive to keep Management informed. “No surprises” should be your goal. That means get good news communicated up the chain of command fast and bad news even faster. Protect your Manager’s back.
  7. Have a point of view, but the common sense to know when to back off and trust Management’s judgment. Pick your battles wisely and be open to builds on your ideas. But also be able to stand your ground and support your position with principles and data when you are advocating doing the right thing. I firmly believe each of us will face the challenge of taking a position we know is right but puts our job or advancement on the line at least once in our career. When the time comes, I hope you have the courage to do the right thing.

What Is Missing From The List?

I am sure you have thoughts on additional behaviors you need to master to be a great leader. Please provide a comment and share them. If we each add to the list, eventually we will have a very robust picture of what we each need to do to be a great leader. I have started the dialogue and now I need you to continue it. Please think about the one thing behavior you believe is most obvious by its absence. Describe it in a comment.

Leadership Thoughts From Several Amazing P&G Leaders

John Pepper

A.G. Lafley

Bob McDonald

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