In today’s heated race for the White House, the worst qualities of our leaders are on display. Every day we are subject to more political infighting, bickering and finger-pointing. What kind of an example are we setting for the youth? What happened to constructive debate and respectfully agreeing to disagree? What happened to tolerance and learning from our differences? It’s time for a change. It’s time for a new kind of leadership – Noble Leadership.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “noble” as, “having or showing high moral qualities or character.” I work with leaders every day who exemplify these traits. In contrast to many White House contenders, they show great integrity, discipline, respect, and a desire to always give their best. They also demonstrate superb emotional control under stress. I call this Noble Leadership after my horse Noble who challenges me daily to be my best.
Noble Leadership is a method of inspiring and motivating others to achieve a common goal through trust and communication. It follows a process of inquiry, discovery, and specific action to meet desired goals. Just like many of our political pundits, my horse Noble can be highly opinionated, dominant, and volatile. But with the right leadership, Noble Leadership, he is an engaging, brilliant partner.
There are seven characteristics of a Noble Leader:
1. Fair – We all have an innate sense of fairness. As a leader, you must set clear expectations for your team. You must also provide the right tools and guidance so that they are prepared and can meet your expectations. Assume nothing. If you don’t ask, you may not get.
2. Calm – Your energy influences others. If you are calm, you inspire balance and clear thinking. If you are stressed or upset, others will be less likely to engage. Worse, they may mirror your stress and become less productive and negatively influence others.
3. Curious – Be sincerely curious about your people. Ask questions and listen fully to the responses. Do not accept rote or pat answers, dive deeper and engage.
4. Assertive – Be strong in your convictions. Set and enforce clear boundaries and expectations. Do not accept poor performance or bad behavior. Your team will respect you.
5. Patient – Make haste slowly or “festina lente.” Set up a good process and work the process. Don’t over-reach. Acknowledge small successes and wins. Often a series of baby steps is much more productive than a big scary leap. Take the big-scary leap when your team is ready.
6. Competent – Be good at what you do. There is nothing worse than working for an incompetent leader. Know the latest in your industry and look for ways to advance yourself and your team.
7. Open-minded – Stay open to new approaches, emerging needs, and ways to improve communication and customer experience. Challenge your own beliefs and encourage innovation. Even if the status quo is working, there may be something even better available. This will also raise your competitive edge.
If we all focus on building our own abilities in these seven areas, the world will be a better place. And you don’t need to be running a company to be a Noble Leader. Many stay-at-home spouses are exemplary Noble Leaders. I encourage you to join me in identifying and celebrating the Noble Leaders in our midst. Do you know a Noble Leader? If so, thank them.