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First Brexit, now the coronavirus pandemic – never have we had greater need of strong, credible leaders who can instil trust in the general population.

As we face unprecedented challenges to our medical, economic and social welfare, all eyes are on the leaders who must steer us through the uncertain days to come. From international politicians to industry figureheads, our fates quite literally rest in the hands of those who will make the most far-reaching, critical decisions.

Clearly, the average company owner or manager is not facing the same degree of consequence as the British Prime Minister or the US President. However, during a real crisis – when people’s health and livelihoods are at stake – every person in a position of authority, at whatever level, will be expected to demonstrate good leadership skills.

But what makes someone a ‘good’ leader? And if you don’t already have this capability, can you develop it?

I was interested to read a recent article* on written by business psychologist Tomas Chamorro- Premuzic, in which he outlined four key attributes that all good leaders should have. These were: intelligence; accurate threat-sensitivity; courage; trustworthiness.

You may think there’s little that can be done if a leader doesn’t possess the first or the last qualities. But you can make up for a lack of intelligence or expertise by surrounding yourself with (and listening to) people who do have the required knowledge. That action is, in itself, an indication of a smart leader.

Similarly, to make sure you are not under or over-reacting to a situation, furnishing yourself with up-to-date information and gaining a clear understanding of the facts will help you to develop an appropriate level of threat sensitivity.

Courage and trustworthiness – as any politician will tell you, these attributes are very hard-won and very easily lost. But they are also simple to demonstrate. Make a hard decision in difficult circumstances and you will be viewed as courageous, even if you turn out to be wrong. To be viewed as trustworthy, you simply need to do what you say you will do and back up your words with corresponding action.

In theory, if we take these four qualities as a road map to becoming a good leader, that accolade is within anyone’s grasp. But we must be willing to identify and accept our shortcomings, before we can start to address them.


Originally posted on Linkedin – March 2020

Mark Fryer

25th March 2020

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