Business Owners: How You Rank In 22 Key Leadership Qualities

Recently I was doing some reading – and reflecting –  on an article called “22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader,” that included wise words from a variety of successful leaders who strived to embody them. The qualities made for an interesting checklist – one for self-reflection and also for gathering feedback on how my team felt I was performing as a leader. I shared the list with some key members of the Private Ocean team and encouraged them to use this opportunity to share honest experiences and perspectives.

As a business owner, it may feel uncomfortable “putting yourself out there” for this type of feedback, but I believe that no matter what our role is within an organization, we should all wish to improve our skills and to grow as people and professionals. In my experience, this exercise showed that I respected people’s opinions and trusted that they were being  thoughtful and honest in the spirit of helping me – and ultimately our clients.  

I would encourage any owner, principal or manager to take time at the end or beginning of each year to assess themselves and ask for feedback – an informal “How Am I Doing?” that offers employees another opportunity to share their insight with you. 

The Exercise

Start with the checklist below, listing the qualities in one column with a description and a rating. Offer people a comment section to elaborate on how they rated you. In my exercise, I provided a 1-3 scale:  (1) Excel, (2) OK but could be better/more consistent, or (3) Needs immediate attention.  Remind people that the goal is for them to provide their perspective of how they experience these qualities of you as a leader, and offer people time to speak to review their answers.

QualityDescriptionRating (1-3)Comment
FocusPrioritizes major initiatives and doesn’t get bogged down in minor things  
ConfidenceInstills confidence by having clear vision, being strong coach and having “swagger and assertiveness”  
TransparencyOpen, sometimes flawed, but always passionate – authentic, no surprises  
IntegrityDoing what’s right (not needing to be right)  
InspirationPersonally driven, and always willing to offer motivation to others  
PassionNo matter how successful, never satisfied and constantly pushing to do something bigger, better, greater  
InnovationSelf explanatory – Are you thinking ahead?  
PatienceUnderstand when to abandon the cause and when to stay the course  
StoicismWhen it hits the fan – don’t react emotionally and aggravate things further  
Wonkiness(used here to describe “knowing the business metrics, numbers, financials, etc.) –   
Open-mindednessKeep an open mind while being flexible and adjust if necessary  
DecisivenessMake decisions thoughtfully but decisively (not wishy-washy)  
PersonablenessMake genuine connections with people;  look for ways to help them  
EmpowermentDelegate responsibility and authority  
GenerosityKind, giving, thoughtful  
PersistenceWillingness to go beyond where others will stop  
InsightfulnessAbility to separate that which is really important from all the things that aren’t  
CommunicationRight amount and type of communication with team/company  
AccountabilityHold myself accountable, taking accountability when things don’t go right;  also taking steps to make it right  
RestlessnessWilling to look outside company to plug gaps to move company forward  

Asking for feedback on these qualities and how a leader’s improvement in these areas can positively impact the firm helps to build a stronger cultural fabric, a more open-flow of communications, and reiterates that everyone’s opinion matters. 


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