Three Key Attributes of Great Leaders Part One: Attitude

This is Part One of a Three-Part Series on the attributes of great leaders.
Part Two (“Skills”) and Part Three (“Knowledge”) will be posted in the coming days. All three parts will appear in a full article on our website.

There are countless ways to assess the leadership qualities we seek for business, politics, sports or our own communities. Recognizing an individual’s ability to assess leaders is an essential proficiency for leaders themselves. In this article, we’ll address the first—attitude.

Attitude
We’re regularly reminded of our expectation for ethical behavior when we see unethical behavior. We know how a single lapse in ethics undercuts long-term credibility and trust.

A great leader embraces and embodies attitude that transcends what is ethical, legal and moral, to also incorporate common decency and constructive and supportive opinions. Leaders with a productive attitude value relationships with the organization, co-workers and even competitors.

Attitudes of respect, commitment and kindness leave little room for arrogance. They help guard against other company leaders being “blindsided,” and minimize others’ potential loss of position or influence.

Leaders like Warren Buffett and Elon Musk remember their roots and strive to understand and support the people around them (who, ostensibly, are reciprocating by supporting them). They realize that their role is to inspire the creativity and productivity of others, to inspire everyone to work in tandem towards a common vision.

These leaders’ ability to generate respect comes largely from the respect they demonstrate for others (just listen to them speak about colleagues and competitors).

Without proper regard for peers, direct reports, other stakeholders and even adversaries – indeed,  for everyone –  a leader will find few allies. Standing alone with a misaligned attitude, his/her demise is only a matter of time.

Special thanks to Dr. Ed Mazze, Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration at The University of Rhode Island, for his work on identifying a core leadership metrics “system”: attitude, skill and knowledge (A.S.K.), and to Stanley H. Davis, Standish Founding Principal, for contributions to this post.


Greg Mickelson is a principal of Standish Executive Search, LLC. Standish Executive Search advises business owners, executives and boards who are positioning their companies for accelerated growth, change or succession.The firm recruits the right leaders who also fit and complement the company’s culture. www.standishsearch.com