How To Lead: An In-Depth Look Into The Qualities That Make A Good Leader
Some people can lead with an iron fist and be respected. Others trying to lead this way will hear a cacophony of grumbling and complaining rise from the ranks. Some can lead in a softer, more introverted way. But others who do that will start to feel like they’re herding cats.
But Natasha Miller, best-selling author and self-proclaimed Chief Motivation Officer, believes no matter our personality, we are all capable of good leadership.
“It’s just finding out what the best fit is and not trying to be whatever book is most recently out about how to do that,” Miller said. “Whether introverts or extroverts, we can all be leaders.”
According to her, there is no one definitive answer to what makes a good leader…but there is one definitive answer for you. She likens the process of becoming a good leader to philosophically finding yourself, but there are certain traits that all good leaders exhibit.
The Qualities Of a Good Leader
As a visionary in her field, Miller is uniquely able to see what others miss, and that includes the essential qualities and responsibilities of a good leader.
Empathy/Emotional Intelligence– In her book, Twelve and a Half, bestselling author, entrepreneur, and investor Gary Vaynerchuk explores the steps to leadership and the importance of empathy. According to Miller, it’s not just about having emotional intelligence for yourself. You also have to be able to understand and identify it in other people. To draw the line where necessary and say, “We don’t do that.”
Inspiration/Vision – A good leader will inspire a team to get on board with a unified vision. It could be a vision for the culture within the organization or a vision for the quarter/year/decade. No matter what the vision is, good leaders build a firm foundation and help their team not lose sight of where the company is headed.
Clearly Defined Core Values – Truly establishing core values can be a challenge for any company. It’s not uncommon for companies to have their core values on their websites and walls, but Miller believes those steps are not enough to get employees to read or understand them. “They’re just words on the wall,” she explains. “They’re not even motivational. After a few glances, they just become white noise.”
What would be better is to call employees when they exemplify a core value at work. But she warns this practice has to remain authentic: “I don’t agree with calling out one or two employees every week on their core values. That’s not terribly authentic, but unexpectedly calling out somebody in the moment is.”
The Role Of The Leader
Although leadership can look many different ways, Miller has a pretty good idea of what a leader’s job isn’t. It isn’t micromanaging how the work is done, dangling metaphorical carrots, or threatening your team with negative consequences.
The goal of a good leader is so much more than “get the job done.” According to her, it’s to inspire others to be their best selves within the organization. Here are a few ways that good leaders are able to accomplish this goal:
- Build a team that is self-managed and intrinsically motivated.
You should be able to take a vacation and trust that your team will still get the job done – even if they do things differently than you. “I don’t want to be the only one driving the bus,” Miller explained. “I need people to take turns. To pull the company forward with their ideas, their skills, their talent, and maybe lead us in a different direction.”
- Solve problems without placing blame.
Give people permission to be honest about what’s going on – especially in difficult situations or when problems arise. “If you turn to blame immediately, your leadership style needs to be examined in my opinion,” Miller said. Instead, she advises approaching each situation from a place of empathy and a desire to understand.
- Prevent burnout from happening.
Let your employees know that it is their professional responsibility to let someone know when they’re feeling buried or overwhelmed. “My team is very Type A. Go-getters. And when they’re up to their eyeballs, they might still say, ‘I have the bandwidth,’ but it’s my job to remind my employees that it’s not helpful for them to burn out.”
A culture where people can be honest about their capacity and feel they can ask for help without judgment is the best prevention for burnout.
How Writing A Business Memoir Made Her A Better Leader
Outside of her leadership role in Entire Productions, Natasha Miller is the author of the best-selling book, Relentless: Homeless Teen To Achieving The Entrepreneur Dream.
She refers to it as a business memoir – a section you’re unlikely to find at the bookstore – but at the heart of it, it is the story of her life.
“You don’t have to be entrepreneurs or business people to appreciate the story,” she said. It’s a story of growing up in the Midwest, in the mid-80s, and the trauma, abuse, and neglect she experienced. It’s a deeply personal book, rife with trigger warnings and one that follows a hopeful trajectory.
And it’s a book that affected her role as a leader in a profound way. “My team now knows a deeper side of me and it’s kind of given me a sense of relief.” Because, as it turns out, one of the best ways to be a good leader is to remember you’re human and to allow your team to see your humanity.
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