The Leader Your Team Wants to Follow

Published: October 7, 2015

Take all the leaders you’ve been privileged to follow and name their most compelling attributes. Imagine all those qualities combined in the character of one super hybrid leader. He or she would be inspirational yet practical. Integrity would be a must. Humor would be a bonus. Consider how the following competencies might be valuable to your organization from the team’s perspective.

  • Courage: Vulnerability and failure are seen as growth opportunities for our leader. He or she knows how to fall down and feel the way back into the game.
  • Approachability: Our leader is human and relatable. No topic is off limits if it advances the culture of the workplace.
  • Open-mindedness: Teachers learn from their students. Our leader is eternally curious about the brilliance hidden within his or her team.
  • Poise: Like the calm and collected flight attendant during turbulence, we want our leader to telegraph composure in a crisis.
  • Clarity: The greater the complexities, the better our leader is able to synthesize variables, create simplicity, and act decisively.
  • Optimism: Balanced with realism, our leader holds a vision for a brighter future and can identify the steps, talent, and resources needed to get there.
  • Wisdom: Whether through innate intelligence or rigorous learning, our leader has a grasp of the big picture and is nimble in adapting to new situations with insight and grace.

Effective leaders understand where they are on the learning curve. They know their role on the team and savor the view of the organization through the lens of their teammates. They feed their strengths and manage their weaknesses. They employ the right mentors for each stage of their leadership development. Would you follow this leader?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.