Leadership: The Two Ends of the Spectrum


By Neritta Low
The Hoffman Agency, Singapore

What is a leader? We can begin unravelling the truth — the often unspoken truth — of a leader as we dig deeper to discover what builds his character and what defines his competence.

There are two sides to every coin. Let’s check out the negative side first.

The Ugly Side of Leadership

Some types of leaders get absorbed by the overarching goals they want to achieve. They might have developed a certain way to deal with issues, and if questioned, their ingrained response may be: “That’s just how it has always been done.” Employees do not always dig deeper because they hold leadership in at a high level of trust for the work that they’ve done and their role.

Personally, in these types of situations, I tend to lean toward the skeptical end of the spectrum, being slightly more questioning of their objectives.

Defining Great Leadership

Albert Einstein once said: “Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” Blindly following your leader without understanding or even sharing the same conviction in his decision only covers the truth behind why your leader took a certain step in the first place. And of course, it takes two hands to clap. The leader needs to be honest and clear of his intention. He needs to have a reason and a rhyme to the tune he wants to sing.

But a leader’s character needs to be complemented with a high level of competence — including capabilities and driving results. It’s about ensuring that the leader keeps a check on his abilities and monitors his work performance.

So, what are some traits that define a “great leader”?

  • A great leader need not lie about his skill sets and experiences.
  • A great leader is ever willing to learn from his peers and his followers.
  • A great leader is always open to hearing the different experiences his team has undergone.
  • A great leader leads by example.
  • A great leader has no need to boast or package his capabilities in any way.

We cannot help but compare leaders with their end results. Who has brought in more sales? Who does the client trust more?

As a kid, my parents taught me the value of being outcome-oriented. The end result matters, especially as we move toward becoming a more meritocratic society — or at least that’s how I see it.

How do you define great leadership?

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