I got a call today from a friend who is a board chair of a local organization. He called me to talk about new board members. I asked him some questions about his organization and it’s leadership. Between that call and watching last night’s debate I really got to thinking about how I judge leadership.

To me it is fairly simple. A good leader starts by being a good listener, rather than the one who talks the most. This is always something I struggle with, but with age I am getting better at it. Asking questions, being curious, and soliciting experts advice and following it comes next.

The best leaders are rarely the “smartest” one in the room. The last thing you want is a Leder who thinks they are the smartest. There is no “smartest.” There are experts in different areas and attracting them to work with you is what a good leader needs.

Gaining consensus is a skill I would rate highly in a good leader. No one person can have everything their way and expect to have a following very long, or be followed by anyone who matters. Leaders who have no real friends are suspect.

Leaders should never be bullies or have hidden agendas. So honesty is highly prized in good leaders. Lastly, humility is a trait I value in a good leader. Everything should not be about them, but rather the mission of the organization.

These are traits I have admired in great leaders I have known, worked for and with. When I hold this mirror up to the debate last night there is no question who I would chose as our next leader. Policies were hardly discussed so the only thing we had to compare was potential leadership skills. A poor leader can ruin the smallest organization and a huge organization demands good leadership. I can’t think of an organization any bigger than the US government. It’s time we opted for someone with the skills to lead it.

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