My Leadership Credo

May 5, 2011

How Do You Stack Up?

Whether you lead or you follow, great leadership, its impact on people and business results, is still a critical factor in how you perceive your worth.

As followers we take our cues from our leaders.  Those that are great make us feel valued.  They listen to what we say, they ask for our opinions and they care that we show up to work, not just to make them look good but to make us feel good.

As a leader, we feel our worth when we can produce results.  But, a great leader will get results not through people but with people, gaining trust and respect along the way, finding they never have to ask for help, it is given freely.

I have read too many explanations and definitions of great leadership to count but they all seem to have the same five attributes.

  1. knowing who you are, what you stand for and how your actions affect others, good and bad; knowing your actions will be a model for others and set a tone for the workplace
  2. being true to your word and deed, doing what is right even when no one else is watching, enabling others to do what they do best
  3. inspiring others to see the bigger picture and understand how what they do adds to the greater cause, holding people accountable for their actions
  4. challenging the status quo, never being happy with “that is the way we have always done it” and expecting bigger and better from everyone around you, thanking people for thinking outside the box and trying new things at every opportunity
  5. paying it forward by mentoring and coaching those who report to you and influencing continued growth and development of everyone to be their best (chances are people will achieve greater things than they knew were possible if motivated by a great leader)

In my experience working with leaders, great is not an adjective I would use for most.  If great leaders have all of these attributes and bad leaders have none, the majority of leaders will have some of these attributes.

Be honest.  If not with me, then with yourself.  When is the last time you held a mirror up and ask yourself, “how am I doing?”, “what do my employees see in my leadership?”, “how could I be better, even great?”

How do you stack up?



  1. Donna, what do you teach leaders regarding the self-reflecting process? I find that’s a skill that really requires honing in on. Sometimes I have to just isolate myself and think hard about it to bring into focus what I’m really thinking when the noise at the office dies down. Without taking that time I find I’m more reactive than reflective/proactive, and that I get the same results on auto-pilot (reference point 4 from your list).

    In my own experience it’s an extension of the experiential learning process. My recent work has started to focus on getting that “learning how to learn” process started early with teens. We’re launching a new summer leadership program in Nashville this year that I have been meaning to tell you about. I think you’ll appreciate where we’re going and that we’re starting so much earlier than college when a lot of these programs are presented.

    Let me know if you have any interest in further information, or if you or any of your clients happen to know a talented 16- or 17-year old who would be a great applicant. I’d appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word, perhaps relative to women youth leaders. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by David Ledgerwood — May 6, 2011 @ 9:02 am | Reply

    • David – you are so right. Self reflection is the missing link for most people in getting to greatness. So much noise to distract us and we don’t take the “time out” to do what is necessary for ourselves. How many email accounts do you have? How many devices (phones, tablets, desktops, etc) are you checking or are beeping at you. Research bears this out when studies have been done with executives, high potentials, and even school teachers. For some people, it is simply a matter of scheduling themselves for a time out. For others, it is having a coach that will hold them accountable for taking the time to reflect. This down time to decompress is not always for reflection but may be a time to exercise, work on your hobby. But self reflection is an important process in understanding who you are, how you interact with others and ultimately, who you want to be.

      Thanks for the post.

      Comment by Donna Yurdin — May 6, 2011 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  2. Great post, Donna! To your point, leaders are defined by an individual’s attributes, not necessarily where they fall on an org chart. So, it is interesting to me that this self reflection that is so important when in a leadership role is so rarely validated or challenged through the use of 360 reviews.

    I have been through, observed, and been asked to participate in a lot of top-down employee evaluation processes, but never worked at or with an organizations that performed 360 evaluations. In fact whenever 360 evaluations were recommended, they were quickly dismissed.

    Comment by Katherine Dierdorff — May 6, 2011 @ 1:30 pm | Reply

  3. I never thought of it that way, well put!

    Comment by toasty redhead — May 14, 2011 @ 8:21 pm | Reply

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