Poor leaders rarely have a coherent philosophy that guides their strategies and decisions. Ineffective leaders lack a well-thought out approach. They don’t have a system that creates a sense of stability and understanding. They change their mind whimsically, based primarily on who has influenced them last. If there is an issue with the major gifts team, the last person pleading their case in the leader’s office will have the final say. They waffle. And they cause an unsettled feeling among those in their care.
Average, middle-of-the-road leaders have a philosophy and approach. They do have a system, at least of sorts. But they don’t change their mind. Ever. They are right. They are rigid. They have a “my-way-or-the-highway” approach to leadership. They get some things done, and even some things done well. But they miss incredible opportunities to enhance results because they are more interested in protecting their opinions and positions than they are in engaging others to get the best possible results. They will hold on to their opinions until it is too late and failure is unmistakingly upon them. People who work with these leaders can become discouraged because facts are not as important as protecting the leader.
The most effective leaders have characteristics of both average leaders and poor leaders. Like average leaders, they have opinions. They have an overarching philosophy of how to lead, how to treat people. They have a system that they believe in. But unlike average leaders, they aren’t rigid. They understand how to use their skill set to engage people. And they will change their mind like poor leaders will. But not on a whim. Instead, effective leaders will change their minds only when certain conditions are met. Namely, when key facts change or emerge, you will see effective leaders change their mind. Which is another way of saying, “I was wrong.” And that is a key hallmark of an effective leader — being humble.