This Election is the Perfect Reminder: Good Leadership is Hard to Find

By: Steve Schaffer, November 8, 2016

What an election season! Regardless of which candidate you preferred, this has been an election process to remember… or perhaps to forget, depending on your perspective.

The 2016 Presidential election has been like no other that I can recall, inspiring heated debates and passionate rhetoric. All throughout the campaign season, one common theme kept returning to the forefront of my mind:

Good leadership is hard to find.

Whether you are looking for the next President of the United States or an executive leader within your organization, it is a daunting task to find the qualities in an individual that you desire to lead your organization into the future.

As you look for good leadership in your industry, there are some attributes that will be critical to a candidate’s success:

  1. The ability to set goals and execute them – Setting clear goals for an organization, or the country for that matter, is essential. These goals need to be clearly defined and achievable. Setting goals that are achievable does not mean that they are easy to attain. Rather, it means that there is a clear and well-developed plan in motion that allows you to reach those goals within a specific period of time.
  2. Willingness to work with others and through others – There will always be times when a leader needs to roll up his or her sleeves and get to work. As John C. Maxwell once stated, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Being able to show your team that you are willing to get your hands dirty and work with them to reach company goals is inspiring, and it will influence them to stay the course.
  3. The strength to hold themselves and others accountable – How many times over the last few months did we hear each Presidential candidate make excuses or pointing the finger at the other in blame? As the great businessman Arnold H. Glasgow once said, “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Let’s remember that holding people accountable for their actions actually helps them achieve their goals.
  4. The desire to learn from failures and celebrate wins – In life, leaders will fail. How they choose to deal with those inevitable failures helps define them as a leader, and as a person. Learning from mistakes helps the team create higher quality work and achieve more success going forward. Another component of a great leader, and one that is too often overlooked, is the wisdom to celebrate victories. Recognizing a job well done is incredibly important for maintaining great morale.

This is certainly not an all-encompassing list of leadership attributes, but these four are foundational and critical to any leader’s success. As I reflect on the most recent election, as well as my experience working with large and small organizations, my belief has once again been confirmed: It is extremely difficult to find good leadership.