News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Qualities of a good leader in a recession: Your view?

A story on this week about eight qualities of a good leader during a recession included a lot of leadership advice for IT professionals. While I was doing the interviews for this piece, a nugget from leadership expert Jason Jennings, about being a “fish out of water” leader, really stood out to me:

Jennings identifies several traits that set conventional leaders apart from great leaders, who he terms “fish out of water.” Conventional leaders cast themselves as larger than life and sure in their stances. They are secretive and avoid signs of weakness. A fish-out-of-water leader, meanwhile, is humble and expresses self-doubt when appropriate. He is honest and admits fault when necessary.

Unfortunately, many “conventional” business executives have made news in the past several months as corporate scandals and mammoth bailouts have grabbed headlines, Jennings said. And that’s why leaders should aim for something different.

“‘Fish out of water’ is a good way to describe people who buck conventional wisdom and don’t just go along,” Jennings said.

I couldn’t agree more strongly with Jennings on this. Clearly, the leadership model that has defined much of the past decade is not working out the way anybody hoped. A confident leader is one thing; a deluded manager with the attitude, “I’m sure I’m right and this is how it’s going to be done and I’m not interested in anybody else’s opinions on this” is not.

Sure, that might seem obvious to some, but I’m surprised how many workplace “leaders” I’ve encountered who don’t seem to understand that humility and honesty will get them further with their staff – and even their superiors – than blatant posturing.

Do you agree with the traits listed in our leadership qualities article? What leadership qualities do you view as crucial during tough times? Feel free to share your comments below.

Also, I’m thinking of writing a companion piece about the qualities of a good IT employee during a recession. If you’re a CIO or IT leader who would like to talk to me about what you look for in employees during rough times, please e-mail me.

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

A good leader will carefully review the kinds of expertise being asked for in an employee/contractor. Not much good qulaity will be found looking for combinations that would make little sense such as Oracle DBA (expert) MS SQL Server (expert) and DB2 (expert) with SQL, Java, ETL, DW, BI, .Net, Unix, Windows also at the expert level.
Two very valuable qualities in leaders and employees are creativity and systems thinking. Difficult times, when "business as usual" isn't like it used to be, require keen assessment of a myriad of relationships and the ability to respond in innovative ways - guided by experience, of course - but enlightened by new possibilities. Enlist the assistance of creative systems thinkers in filling positions, and set the expectation in the workplace.
I can't help but also think about public leadership - damaging situations state & federal government leaders have helped create are no different than those in the private sector. Bottom line: Leadership goals must get back to basics; leading to do the right thing, and transition away from the popularity contest/salesman mentality and "one with the most money wins" attitude that's been glamorized for too long. Okay, so I'm upset about current affairs, who isn't? Thought: A person's personality plays a key role in being a good (or bad) leader, obviously, however, the other part of the equation that's worth putting forth effort is building good leaders in younger generations using media, community, in the household and education collectively. I believe that could make a huge difference going forward from here.
I think level headedness under pressure is key to these times. There is nothing worse than a leader who is panicing and making irrational decisions, all the while trying to pretend he knows what he is doing. A good leader needs to choose employees he trusts and believe that they know what they are doing. He also needs to understand he is not an expert in everything and his employees know more than he does in their own areas of expertice. If your employees believe in your company, openess and honesty will go far. Not understanding or knowing the skills your employees have seems to be the norm amongst most leaders. Worse are leaders who believe their employee's are incapable of doing their job, so they always ask for outside "experts". Having worked on both sides of that equation, I can honestly say that always leads to disaster.