What is your definition of a “great leader”?

March 7, 2016 Blog, Monday Morning Wake Up Tips

I often ask this question when kicking off a leadership training session. Usually individuals have a quick response. They say great leaders are inspirational, visionary, good communicators, driven, etc. Participants “know” what a great leader is, and they strive to be great leaders themselves. Yet when I ask participants to give specific examples of how they demonstrate being great leaders, they struggle to give concrete examples. It’s what is known as the “knowing/doing gap.” It’s one thing to “know” what a great leader is; it’s another to “be” one.


Over the years, I have collected a list of descriptions of leadership qualities, characteristics, attitudes and behaviors. This list is a great starting point for identifying what a great leader is, but what’s more important is to define it for yourself or for your organization. In a training session, I have participants work in groups to come up with 10 values and the specific attitudes and behaviors that, if practiced consistently, would define a great leader in their organization. Once they finish, the whole group comes back together, and all the lists are shared and combined to create one list that defines what a great leader is in their organization. With that list, not only are leaders now accountable to model specific attitudes and behaviors, they are clear what they need to “do” to be successful as leaders in their organization.

Do you have a list of the values and specific attitudes and behaviors that define great leadership for you? If not, you may be experiencing the “knowing/doing gap.” Fill the “knowing/doing gap,” and your credibility as a leader will soar!

Send us an email if you want to do this exercise for yourself or your leadership team. We’ll be happy to walk you or your team through it.