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What makes a Good Leader?

We all probably have our own Bad Boss story, that one who is forever burned in the back of your mind as what not to do, but what about the bosses that have treated us well? If it is true that a bad leader can ruin morale and crush a business, then surely a good boss can save them, right? If your business has suffered from the wrong hire and the wrong leadership choices, how do you pivot what traits should you look for to avoid this issue in the future? Let us talk about what a good leader looks like.

A good leader should be hard to distinguish from their team. Good leadership begins from a place of support. Years ago, I was a manager for a clothing store, most of the staff I managed were high school age. A nightly task that needed to be done was sweeping the store, because it was a boring task that required moving clothing racks it was also the least favorite chore to be done so it was always the last thing to be completed. Now during the holidays this could be compounded further because of the additional foot traffic we got. Knowing that many nights my staff were exhausted and faced folding hundreds of shirts at closing in addition to the dreaded sweeping I would routinely work ahead on my manager closing duties to help pitch in with what they needed to get done. Sure, this benefited me because it meant we did not have to stay later to get things done, but the bigger reward came from showing my staff I did not place myself above them. Even though my position was higher than theirs I still folded shirts and swept floors.

I refused to ask them to complete a task that I would not do myself. I wanted them to see that I was there to support them. To me if they were struggling to get the work done, I had failed as a leader because I missed teaching them an element, they needed to complete the task at hand on time. Now realizing most of my staff were young I also knew the way I treated them would be helping lay the foundation for how they would treat future employees of their own as they moved on to their career paths. I still stay in touch with many of those employees and have seen how their careers have progressed and they have shared some of their inspiration on how they manage people began from the examples I set for them.

In fact, when I left that company one of my staff who began as a part-time stock person took over as manager for the store. Who knew something as simple as taking time to sweep floors could inspire others to become the next generation of strong leaders? What traits do you remember learning from your favorite bosses? What examples did they set for you that influence how you manage today?

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