When we and others around us lead well, life is better: we are more productive, more engaged, more open to learning, more fulfilled. But what is it that is happening? What is our understanding of leadership?

Here are CharacterScope’s 7 Insights on what good leadership is, distilled from decades of coaching and teaching leaders and helping organisations in creating leadership cultures:

  1. First, what it’s not. Leadership is not a role (‘the Leader’), something reserved for a few, but a set of activities that everyone can play their part in. 

  2. Second, leadership involves doing things that help create the system (connections of individuals, relationships and groups) in which people can work productively together and flourish personally as they work.

  3. Third, the following hallmarks will help you know whether your ecosystem is being collectively well led (thanks to Prof J Richard Hackman at Harvard University for these):
    • the individuals, relationships and teams become more capable over time
    • the team and stakeholders around them take satisfaction with what they produce (their work-output is high quality and effective)
    • the individuals in the team get more personal learning and fulfilment from team membership than frustration and alienation

  4. Fourth, there are many, many kinds of leadership contribution – it is for everyone to find what theirs is and then to develop to be the best they can be. Our role at CharacterScope is to give you the tools and support that help you develop the strengths of character and habits that are the foundation of your leadership.

  5. Fifth, we all know good leadership when we see it in others, but it is often more difficult to recognise it in our ourselves. CharacterScope is about learning to recognise, develop and celebrate what it is we do that will be experienced by others as good leadership.

  6. Sixth, good leadership creates good leadership – there are no winners and losers. If we can help others lead well they will help us lead well. Collectively, incrementally you will do the things that make the relationship or group or team or movement better – healthier, more effective, a place in which people flourish, better able to adapt, to shape their collective future.

  7. Seventh, the art of leadership can probably never be fully mastered but the results of trying will be good leadership.