What makes a good leader?

Ram Ramanathan  •  Feb 11, 2020  •  4 min read

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What makes a good leader?

In the days of hierarchical and authoritarian organizations leadership used to be seen as a controlling superior layer at the top of the pyramid. It has evolved into one of a supportive, influencing, inspiring, more equal style in today’s knowledge and information age of millennials and post-millennials. For most of us, this is a wonderful development. 

In the olden days, from Jungian personality types and MBTI classification, an STJ would have been the leadership archetype. We see that among corporate executives, this profile accounts for twice its normal statistical average. A leader was seen to be mostly of superior education and intellect, and displayed that unequal status through sensory, thinking and judging characteristics. The leader was expected to be unemotional, not prone to taking gut-level decisions, and highly disciplined and structured. This personality worked in homogenous tribal populations at work and life, where the leader was undisputed as a source of strength, and often physically, mentally, economically and socially superior to those he- almost always a ‘he’- lorded over. 

More often these days this STJ personality is seen to be counterproductive to people engagement and emotional intelligence, and therefore performance, in diverse, heterogeneous populations that no longer accept superiority based on birth, social or economic status. We see more and more leaders who are NFP types, intuitive, feeling and perceiving. Such leaders go with their gut, are emotionally accessible, people-oriented and always ready to change. 

At Coacharya, we see that it makes more sense to work with personality types in leadership rather than the classical definitions of authoritarian, delegating, people-oriented, level 5, etc. However, in some cases, such as level 5 leadership as defined by Jim Collins, the level may be more personality-oriented. Coacharya looks at leadership from an executive coaching perspective viewing from organizational needs. 

Questions We Ask Organizational Leaders for Executive Development

  • What are the pain points blocking your growth and performance?
  • How would you like to change?
  • What kind of a leader would serve this change?
  • How ready are you for this change?

We then look at the issue systemically and co-create with stakeholders the profile of a leader who they can agree upon as the type of persons who can enhance the value of the company.

In general, we find that companies that are successful in a sustained manner have a good succession plan by having a pipeline of high potential managers. By definition, these companies separate short-term star performers from long term sustained dependable performers. They then work with executive leadership coaches who are domain- experienced to develop these young executive leaders.

When we work with high potential young managers, who generally these days are in early thirties, they are mostly functional specialists at the levels they operate in. They are determined to achieve mastery in technology, finance, marketing, sales, operations, people management, legal or whatever other space they have been academically trained in and recruited for. Since their potential has been identified as general manager leaders, we help them understand that mastering a function is not necessarily the leadership quality that would take them further. They would need to identify, influence and inspire other managers who are masters of functions, rather than aspire to be masters of functions themselves. They need to be catalysts, communicators and helpers co-creating solutions rather than offering them, and collaborating with all rather than competing.

Areas We Coach High Potential Executive Leaders In

  • Intrapersonal self-awareness leading to emotionally intelligent behavior
  • Interpersonal sensitivity in building relationships
  • Presence that centers them in high values while being flexible in beliefs
  • Communicating empathetically and generatively 
  • Co-creating solutions by evoking awareness in those they work with
  • Collaborating for sustained future growth with accountability

Not surprisingly these are the core competencies of leadership master coaches as well. 

Our experience is that great leaders tend to be balanced in their approach, they tend to be a bit more intuitive and yet sensory to feedback, a bit more feeling-oriented while still strongly cognitive, and a bit more open to change while still being disciplined and accountable. We find psychometrics that recommends a middle path and show up extremes as blind spots help leaders better in self-awareness and coaches in motivating leaders.

Ram Ramanathan

Ram

Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.