What We Want Our Leaders To Know

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What We Want Our Leaders To Know

You don’t have to be “certified” to be a leader, like you do in order to be a CPA. Imagine we get to design a curriculum that is a pre-requisite to becoming a leader. What would the top 5 classes be?

I asked this very question to my peers on LinkedIN.

I played the game too. Last week, I shared my five hypothetical pre-requisite courses for leaders:

  1. How To Use Accountability to Get Results
  2. How to Cultivate Creativity for the Bold, New World
  3. The Importance of Purpose
  4. Resurrecting the Lost Art of Listening
  5. Understanding the Close Relationship of Strategy and Organizational Culture When Facing Change

It was exciting to see so many people chime in with their own (excellent) ideas about what skills make up the backbone of a good leader. What I find striking when looking at these responses as a whole is that most of these skills allude to maintaining the “human” aspect of a leader. We want leaders to listen, care, laugh, communicate in a thoughtful and transparent fashion, and be humble. We want our leaders to be able to connect to us as human beings. This is yet another example of how integrating the values and purpose of the leader and the organization puts everyone involved on the path to personal and professional success.

Take a look at these great responses.

What We Want Our Leaders To Know

1. Leaders Need Humility  Chris Lorence

Chris offers a great breakdown of humility.  A self-assessment could work in order to gauge one’s humility; a 360 to get feedback from others would work well too, since we can’t see our own blind spots. As for his second point about leaders surrounding themselves with “group think”, diversity of thought and perspectives can help alleviate the ego, as long as the leader is willing to listen to those perspectives.


2. Leaders Must Know How To Develop and Sustain Healthy Organizational Cultures

Kathleen Kruse

Kathleen’s comment reminded me of Steve Jobs’ “connect the dots” speech. So I asked her, what are the skill-sets involved in order to ‘connect multiple dots from across courses (organizations) to think in a holistic, goal-oriented way’? What would we actually need to teach an emerging leader so they could ‘connect the dots’?

Kathleen Kruse 3


3. Emotional Intelligence and Empathy is Needed for Leadership

Adrian Stokes

Piers Bishop

Perhaps Piers has a point about certification, anywhere in the world! I’m with him on the need for leaders to 1) Recognize that others may have another point of view and 2) To appreciate that point of view, even when they disagree. And absolutely, all the insights in the world aren’t helpful if they’re not applied constructively.

Simon Howson-Baggott


4. Personal Development  is a Must for a Leadership Role Emily Filloramo

I loved Emily’s point about working on the inside first. It’s so true! This is why emotional intelligence is so important. By understanding ourselves and our triggers first, we can then manage our impact on those around us. Although we know this, it takes such patience to actually work it on a daily basis.


5. Leaders Must Have Expert Communication Skills from Team Work to Conflict and Beyond

John Jorgensen Kate McKena
Phyllis Weiss Hasserot


6. Parenting Skills Can Inform Leadership Skills

Michael SternSuggesting a parenting class was surprising! I asked Mike to elaborate. Also, I asked how he thought someone could teach humility to others.

Michael Stern 2

David Herz 2

David’s point about meeting people where they are developmentally is so important, which is why I like Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model. Helping people see the different developmental levels and respective management styles often produces an “ah ha” moment and eventual behavioral change.

His point about *not* assuming bad intent when there is none is also vital to success. It takes a certain level of emotional intelligence to keep this perspective.


7. Leaders Should Know the Difference Between Leading and Driving

Nancy Rickles


 8. Learning to Lead is a Lifelong Process

Gordom Terwillegar

I agree with Gordon. Mentorship is an important beginning to leadership. Having a variety of mentors helps emerging leaders see different styles to use in various situations.

David Herz 3

What David says about education is spot on. I have a 9-year old daughter and can already see the impact of test-taking and following school rules on her. Questioning ideas and rules will help the future leaders break through old paradigms.

As an added bonus, I want to share Chris Lorence’s list of five pre-requisites. The titles of his courses are fantastic! He makes excellent points too– torching the concept of “Because we’ve always done it that way” will not only make a tremendous impact on organizational culture, but create an environment ripe for innovation and progress.  The workforce is drastically changing and being adaptable is an absolute must for survival.

Chris Lorence 2

Leaders and leader-hopefuls, did you notice a trend? People want you to care, laugh, communicate effectively in all areas, and be trustworthy. They want you to be humble and connect with them on a genuine, human level. Cold, distant, egotistical, authoritarian leaders can exit stage left.

So what do you think? After reading all of these ideas, can you think of more to add? I’d love to hear. Please leave us all a comment below, send me a personal  email or give me a shout on Twitter.

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