Discover You: What makes a good leader?……Someone who….

Pages and pages of easel paper could be filled with characteristics of a good leader. We could search this question and have an endless list of characteristics. Good, even great characteristics.

But what do these characteristics look like? How do they make people feel? What is the impact on the people around leaders? What makes a good leader?

Characteristics of a Good Leader – Adult Answers

Having asked this question of adults in various settings the answer always is a comprehensive list of characteristics of leadership……for example:

  • Communication
  • Delegation
  • Visionary
  • Networking
  • Commitment
  • Trustworthy
  • ……….

It seems easy to list the characteristics. People list attributes they have seen in a great leader, poor leaders need, characteristics they believe themselves to have or hope to develop. Now that is interesting…..hope to develop…..the ability to reflect and self-assess joined with a willingness to grow, those are some key skills a leader should have. My actions, my presence in the characteristics, essentially the way I am has the impact on others around me. And we are always having impact on those around us.

Characteristics of a Good Leader – Youth Answers

This hit home for me when I asked this same question “what makes a good leader?” of youth. The answers were a little different than the ones listed by adults.

  • Someone who makes me feel important
  • Someone who helps me learn new things
  • Someone who teaches me to do my job
  • Someone who is there if I have a question
  • Someone who knows what they are doing
  • Someone who leads a group to accomplish something together
  • Someone who knows I am good at things

Notice they listed how they envisioned a leader impacting their lives, the way a leader relates to and supports those in their span of care. Interesting.

Most of my kids in class share openly and easily, yet there are always a few that you never really know if they are listening or if you are reaching them. If you could picture this day, a group of 12 and 13 year olds gathered around the easel paper, relaxed, sharing thoughts on leadership, I ask again, “what makes a good leader?” and this quiet voice from the side of me says….

  • “Someone who doesn’t yell at me when I make a mistake”

Even now as I reflect back it brings tears to my eyes. “Someone who doesn’t yell at me when I make a mistake”, there is a story, a moment in this young person’s life where someone did something that impacted him.

I sit on multiple community committees focused on youth. Over and over again I hear of problems our young people are facing or causing. I wonder, what if they had “someone who doesn’t yell at me when I make a mistake” to teach, coach, mentor, might I say lead them? If we are hoping to develop leaders for tomorrow we have to start today by the way we lead.

Developing the Next Generation of Leaders

The need for developing the next generation of leaders is evident in the current job market, business groups everywhere are asking for employees who have the essential skills of critical thinking, communication, mental flexibility, teamwork and self-leadership. We can start today teaching these essential skills to our kids at home, in and out of schools, on the playing field and practice hall.

The characteristics the make a good leader are the characteristics that make a good person. We are all leaders. It is not just characteristics that make a good leader but more importantly the person who embodies them.

What kind of someone do you want to be?

Contact Information

Sarah Weisbarth is the Director of Discover You with The ROCK Center for Youth Development. Bringing programs supporting the social and emotional learning of adults and youth into school systems and classrooms around the globe. Interested in Discover You ™ workshops or trainings for your organization? Visit their website contact email and social media @DiscoverYouPrograms Discover You™.

Positive Youth Development Training begins September 26th. Workshops are available by request.

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