If you were asked to describe your favorite job, how would you reply?

Every time I ask this question during my leadership coaching workshops or team coaching sessions I immediately see faces light up and their energy shift upward!  When they answer, however, feelings were easier to describe than truly identifying the key factors that made it such a positive experience – but 90% of the feedback had to do with having the right leadership in place.

So, what makes an ideal leader?  (FYI, I have never heard “title, age, salary, or having subordinates”)

There are some people that are natural born leaders – the ones with great street smarts, magnetic charm, know how to lead, motivate, and get results!  Those are the kinds of skills that do not come from reading books or imitation- it’s natural, honest, and very appealing to most.

There are those that fall into a leadership role by default due to a reduction in force or a resignation. These leaders are made!  Being part of many downsizing activities and company closures in my Human Resources career I had a few of my own “battlefield commission” promotions where I had no choice but to take the reins and lead.  I learned very quickly, and I moved very quickly.  There was no learning curve, it was literally sink, or swim, and I had to become an Olympic gold medalist swimmer.  Those leadership experiences gifted me with the kind of knowledge that makes me indispensable in my career.

Sometimes when we are not sure what we want in an ideal leader we shift the focus and think about what we do not want.  If I were to ask you to describe your least favorite job, how would you reply?  This question when asked elicits a different facial response, typically followed by a groan and a downward shift in energy.  However, people seem to have a greater ease of rattling off all the negative experiences like they were reading items from a grocery list: “I never felt supported”, “My boss was not very friendly”, “There was no trust”, “I had no mentoring”, etc.  It’s like that old statistic on how a customer will tell more people about a negative experience than a positive one.  We tend to hold on to those resentful, unresolved feelings a lot longer than the positive ones.

What qualities and characteristics are required in an ideal leader?  What skills, knowledge, strengths?

When you envision your ideal leader what do you see?  Do they have a great understanding of their Emotional Intelligence?  Are they supportive and maintain trusting relationships?  Do they complete tasks and solve problems?  Do they effectively communicate? Do they inspire?  Do they create more leaders?

Have you asked yourself “How am I leading in my life?”  When you envisioned the characteristics of your ideal leader do you see those characteristics in yourself?

We are all leaders in our life if we choose to be.  Choosing to be an ideal leader is the true challenge.

Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker

Who in your life had the greatest impact on you?  How did they stand out in your life?  What qualities made them ideal?