It’s one thing to be a good manager but another altogether to be a leader who inspires people.
One is safe and gets things done slowly, the other empowers people to live life with excitement and purpose.
Yet being a great leader isn’t easy. It takes a mixture of learned skills and natural abilities.
According to Ekaterina Walter, inspiring leaders routinely behave in the following quirky ways.
1. The play devil’s advocate
They ask questions that provoke people to think about their work. They demand that people explore their assumptions and rake over the coals of the ideas campfire. Around an inspiring leader you’ll hear ‘why’ a lot.
2. They take the blame
They’re quick to accept the blame for their team’s poor performance. And when things go well they’re just as quick to shine the spotlight on their team members. Inspiring leaders protect their team and are humble about their own achievements.
3. They couldn’t care less about conventional wisdom
Saying that’s it’s never been done to a true leader is like waving a red rag to a bull. They look for ways to route around or through a problem. They look for solutions from other industries and from their life experiences.
In an interview I asked a prospective employee to tell me a story about being innovative. She told me about buying kebab skewers from a marketplace in New Guinea so she could serve her dinner guests. From that point forward I knew she’d find creative ways to solve problems. She never let me down.
4. They listen intently
In meetings they ask questions – lots of them – then they shut up and listen. Good leaders don’t need to hear their own voices to feel good about themselves.
5. They intentionally seek diversity
Great leaders go out of their way to surround themselves with strong, independent people who are willing to bring a unique perspective to a team. They don’t want or need yes people. Instead they encourage diversity of thought and opinion and empower those around them to speak their minds.
6. They invite naiveté
Great leaders are always learning. They look for answers in strange places and they’re humble enough to know they don’t have all the answers. They’re always asking ‘why’ and ‘why not.’
7. They disappear
Knowing their limits, good leaders take time to unwind and recharge. They create spaces in their lives that release their creative spark.
It’s nothing to find a great leader involved in an unusual hobby or learning a new skill.
Do you know an inspiring leader? What unconventional behaviours do they display?