Are you a great leader?

harvard, great leader

Have you got what it takes to be a successful leader? Do you have impact and influence to achieve your career ambitions in today’s competitive environment? Watch Harvard Business School’s Linda Hill and executive Kent Lineback outline how you can assess yourself:

It’s easier said than done to become a great leader and takes years, or even a life time. And leadership skills are definitely essential no matter where on your career journey you are at the moment.

Do you have the qualities and abilities Linda Hill and Kent Lineback believe it takes to lead yourself, others and an organisation? For instance the self awareness it takes to improve yourself? Was their advice useful for you? Did you have an aha experience? What did you learn? Is there something you would like to add? Did their insight enable you to assess and measure your ability as a leader and learn how to improve your skills? Are you now better equipped to succeed with leading yourself and your colleagues?

Video: HarvardBusiness – Picture: Land Rover MENA

89 thoughts on “Are you a great leader?

  1. Thanks! I know that I have the problem to NOT be included in meetings due to facts that managers don´t see or understand my potential to grow in a company (they like me but dont want me to work?). Now when I have my own company it is the same. What I am doing wrong? I am searching for new relationships but it is dificult to know who to invite and how to "ceep the fish in the bowl" How should I proceed? I rearly get feedback of my beeing. Is there a test to take? What should I Do?

    1. Susanna, I don't know you so it's impossible for me to answer your question. Ask people who know you well and you can trust. They can give you advice and if you listen you will benenfit. By the way, don't ask friends who will tell you what you want to hear but true friends who will tell you what you need to improve. Do keep in mind that only approximately 10 percent of human beings have leadership qualities even though 100 percent are of the opinion that they are leaders.

  2. That interview was chock full of great advice! I think the 3 Networks are important to stay aware of and balance (Operational, Strategic, and Developmental), but my 2 favorite parts of the interview were 1) the quote "Powerlessness corrupts. If you don't have power, you can't stand up for what's right" and 2) the technical term "Competent Jerk" just because I think we all know that person!

  3. I think being a great leader, depends on what type of leader you are. Some can quickly build networks, others cannot. There are some, who are dominant in their personalities. Others are reserved, only using their personality when it counts.
    I think being a successful leader, is looking at yourself, and determining your strengths as a leader and working on them.

  4. The ability to build networks automatically implies that you are skilled at developing those strong relationships that are the foundation of becoming a great leader. A great leader also has outstanding communications skills so that the people he needs to move his company forward know what's expected of them and the goals they need to attain.

  5. Interesting video in which I have taken a number of tips. I like Linda's point on a manager's failure to look outside of managing their team – leading is so much more than that.

    Yes, I am a leader at work and in church ministry. Leaders should work on developing themselves as there is no point at which you 'arrive'. We are human and make mistakes but the important thing is we learn from them and ensure they are not repeated.

  6. I do feel I have great leadership qualities. I am a good listener and flexible in my strategies and views. I think it is important for leaders to always listen to alternative views.

  7. What a great post.
    I would agree that it takes years to be a leader. Trust is basic for any leader. You must trust the people below you, but you also must trust your leadership.
    One problem, I think there is a problem with some people's definition of leadership. People confuse leadership with charisma. Just because you can win a crowd over, does not mean you can lead them.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    1. Good points, William. Personally believe the biggest problem with leadership is that an abundance of managers regard themselves as leaders. If you have leadership qualitiescharm and charisma will be huge assetts. No doubt about that. It's much more difficult for a dull person to lead. In fact few boring people are excellent leaders.

  8. Inspiring and informative, especially the comments! I must confess I never aspired to be a "leader" even though in every job (and volunteer position) I ever had I ended up being elevated to positions of leadership. I believe part of my reluctance is because most leaders I've ever worked with were big into ego gratification and thrived on office politics that's just not me. I would much rather serve as a mentor, inspiring and showing others the way to succeed with their goals.
    My recent post How to Keep Smiling (Even When Life Sucks)

  9. I’m pretty sure I do NOT have what it takes to be a great leader. 🙂 But that’s OK, because I’ve managed to work my way out of a job that requires those skills. Now I apply what little leadership skills I have to being a good mom!

  10. Great video. I was a leader for a large business in my past life (before kids). It was an interesting challenge to be a leader for the office and being friends with coworkers. I think likability is important but accountability is more important as a leader. We need to show results that show focus and that you know what you are doing not just managing. I like that they mention that personal chemistry doesn’t matter and that you need to work out the personality issues. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed it and am going to share with my small business clients. Everyone can benefit from this video, not just large corporations.

  11. I pretty much have the same problem that Lineback discusses. I have no tolerance of office politics and always refused to play that game. That may have limited me in some situations, but it probably made me feel better about myself overall.

  12. Catarina, I was unable to hear the video – my problem, not yours. Got a new computer which still has some stuff not transferred properly. But definitely I am not a leader – I am much more inclined to just carry on doing things my way. Bet my former employees are glad I retired huh?

    1. Hope you manage to make your new computer work the way it should, Lenie. It's so refreshing to hear someone say they are not a leader. Most people pretend they are even if they are not. Maximum ten percent of humanity are. Have a look at Linkedin profiles and you will see that most people consider themselves to be leaders.

  13. I am on the road to becoming a great leader. I give my all and am fully committed to those I lead. I enjoy inspiring and encouraging others to find and utilise their gifts.

    There are various elements of my character that need further shaping and I am willing to work on these.
    My recent post Are you thankful for 2015?

  14. Leadership is more complex than many people think it will be. You do get to provide the structure and make the rules for your team. But you also need to understand how to properly motivate them, and also how to most effectively use your team members so the team succeeds. I’ve been in leadership positions in the past and this provides some great insight on how to make the most of your position.

    1. Absolutely, Erica. That's why I always write articles about different aspects of leadership. Approximately 10%of human beings are leaders. But the majority still consider themselves leaders when in fact they are managers.

  15. I like the way the three networks have been defined as operational, strategic, and developmental. Thinking about relationships in that context can really help identify who you need to pay attention to and cultivate relationships when, and as was pointed out identify which task forces or other groups you choose to volunteer for. I’m not working in the office world anymore, but wish I’d known to look at things from this perspective when I was.

  16. Interesting about the 3 kinds of networks. I had all three. But in regards to Hill saying you can't ask someone to be your mentor – I think that is changing. And even when I launched my corporate training business

    1. Yes, it's an interesting video, isn't it, Patricia. Of course you can ask someone to be your mentor. That happens all the time with positive results. But she is definitely right that it's best to first build up a relationship with the person in question. If not, it's much harder to convince them.

    1. It's so refreshing to hear someone say they don't consider themselves as a leader, Cheryl. The majority of people in the world belive they are. The majority of US high school students, for instance, according to The New York Times.

  17. I know for a fact the reason why I became such a good teacher was because I fully bought into the necessity of self-reflective practices. While I don't plan on aspiring to great leadership now or in the future, I do know from past experience I can rise to the occasion when the situation calls for it because I've been conditioned to always look for better ways to get things done.
    My recent post Book Review: The Talented Mr. Ripley

  18. Great video share! I was prepared (admitting my prejudgment on this one) to disagree with a few things because of previous "Harvard Gospel" but this is spot on. Whenever we discuss office politics, it is in negative terms so we miss the opportunity to address what is really internal rapport building that could help us drive our business better. As a saleswoman I always focus on positive internal relationships and find myself disgusted when I come across stern and inflexible ops or accounting people who don't understand the mutual success developed by our potential synergy. I work hard to form relationships based on appreciation of what they do so that they don't become annoyed when they see me coming–it's a little bit of politics but it's worth it.
    I also enjoy her breakdown of the three social networks. I usually teach this to individuals in other ways but it's the same premise: Peers, Mentors and Advisers. Again, great video, thanks for sharing.

  19. Interesting post. In groups that I have worked with, we had a general thought that everytime I point a finger, I have three more pointing back at me. It is very important to be self evaluative, but too often, ego’s get in the way. I like the approaches discussed in the video.

    Thank you for sharing Catarina!

  20. Where I failed personally was not cultivating the developmental network. I think toward the end of my career I was just starting to do this, but by that stage it was a bit late. I didn't know at this stage that I would probably never manage a team again. I say probably because you never know what will happen in the future once i get my health back 🙂
    My recent post Lost the Plot

  21. I thought Linda's Hill's point about having to go out and gather information in order to build an effective plan was such a good one. How can you assess strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your organization and yourself without going out and engaging with people who impact and influence outcomes?
    My recent post 8 Tips For Managing Workplace Bullies

  22. I liked Linda Hill's discussion of the types of networks. I could see how a developmental and strategic network could have overlap. And connecting with these people aren't (often) those people with whom you feel comfortable. That's hard work, connecting with others who are different.
    My recent post CSV, JPG, PHP – File Formats Fun

  23. Interesting that they broke this down int three business networks and how to maximize the relationships with each. And there are a lot of correlations with the current course I am taking via Coursera – Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence which also stresses understanding priorities – understanding consistent needs, and reconciling differences.
    My recent post Car Horn….Where’s The Justice?

    1. Yes, it's a good video, isn't it, Jacqueline. Personally thought their advice on how to evaluate yourself as a leader was really interesting. Am sure most "leaders" don't do that considering that most of them are managers:-)

      1. Also interesting that research shows that self-evaluations for leaders generally misses the mark when compared to evaluations from peers and subordinates who evaluate them! Men tend to overestimate their abilities and women tend to underestimate theirs! Love to see you do a post on that! 🙂
        My recent post Car Horn….Where’s The Justice?

        1. Interesting, Jacqueline. All human beings see and hear what they want or fear. And we all have different versions of reality. A good example of that is when you have an accident and ten witnesses and hence ten different versions of what happened. Who's right and who's wrong. Personally think that it is a good idea to be honest with yourself and try to evalutate how others perceive you.

  24. Dear Catarina,


    I have posted a comment yesterday which is not yet updated, if it was not the tuned response as per your column then i think that must be it's destiny.

    Just want to say, your columns are very retrospective and does bring out the best in people.

    Keep up the challenges

    Many Thanks

  25. The title says: “Would Harvard regard you as a great leader”?

    I appreciate that it is not per se Harvard but i have raised a discussion purely because of the title and not otherwise.


    1. Dhruv, this is not about Harvard per se. They just happened to produce a video that's a useful tool for self assessment. For an answer to your question I suggest you contact Harvard directly.

  26. Finally got a chance to view the video Catarina. I found the 3 networks interesting which I had not considered. Also if you work in corporations you do have to have relationships with others outside you team and you may not like them personally which can be a challenge especially if it is on a day to day basis. The relationship only works when you take your personal thoughts out of the situation.

    Thanks for sharing the video
    My recent post Is Google’s Quest Your Marketing Opportunity?

  27. Very good insight and info. Building trust is essential and not easy. When trust is built, power to get things done for your team reinforces trust and expands your network. Great leaders can be trusted and make others better directly and indirectly.

  28. Great video, Catarina!

    From everything that they said and explained, there are three things that you will need to be a leader: vision, communication skills, and maturity. Like what Linda mentioned, unless you know where you are and where you would like to go (your vision), how will you know who are the right people you will need to connect with and what are the things that you will need to be on the lookout for?

    Communication and maturity go hand in hand for me. More than just being able to get the message across, it is important for us to know how to listen when people suggest and even criticize your points and ideas. This is important in developing the relationships that both Kent and Linda mentioned, especially among people that we may not necessarily like but need to work with. Being able to communicate well and deal with nasty things under pressure will have an impact on whether or not other people would want to deal with you. Sadly, this is also the things that a lot of managers tend to miss out.
    My recent post Christmas, Filipino Style

  29. Hi Catarina. Great insights as usual. I like the ideas of buidling separate but connected networks to develop yourself as a leader. I think the biggest challenge today in organizations is separating out those who want to be leaders from those who like to manage.

    1. Thank you Mike. Yes building networks to develop yourself is important, isn't it. However, don't forget that leadership is a buzz word at the moment. Everybody wants to be a leader and believe they are. Even those who should be able to distinguish leaders from managers.:-)

  30. What I experienced out of both personal and business life was very simple and straight forward and does not need any involvement from another people outside of me,
    – It is me who should focus on the end destination and concentrate on how and when I should be there and what's the channels I use to be there.
    – It is me who should Meet myslfe to help adopt and adjust the focus and get rid of all the mind viruses that preventing me to succeed
    – It is me who able to be the giver to anyone giving money, education, advises, enlightmnt and any kind of help, all will returned back to me when being in need
    – it is me who take care for the most close family member, wife, kids, parents, friends.
    -It is me who should maintain having the displine and performance in hourly bases, nobody could do it for me.
    – It is me who always fulfill the promises to myself, and others at the same time,
    Nothing from above could be done to me by others, all are mine.. So it is very simple to be a successful leader, just believe and do what I've believed

  31. Hi Catarina, long time no see.

    In this day and age… the way we do business has changed dramatically. Business has everything to do with relationships. Self awareness and intuition is also a huge (and likely the most important part) of ensuring things move ahead.

    We have to be willing to determine the needs of others (customers/co workers) and we need o be flexible and conform to their needs first and foremost.

    I work with so many people who have a hard time adopting these principles but once it's pointed out and they actually develop their self awareness and how they come across… and how they are seen/heard/felt by others… they see huge positive changes.

    Great video and post.

    My recent post Are You Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results?

  32. Hi Catarina,

    Sometimes being a turtle and withdrawing from the politics can leave you isolated and vulnerable. Being a dictator and not getting to know your team or letting them know they matter can have an effect on motivation and performance. The one manager I worked hardest for built relationships and was a pleasure to work with.

    The intimidating managers often caused people to clam up and keep their ideas to themselves. Team performance was less than stellar, and it eventually reflected upon the manager.

    Such managers were eventually left off important projects, which could have benefited their careers, because of personality and performance.

    This isolation and self-reliance limits inputs and can negate diversity in the workplace.

    My recent post Personal Branding Narrows My Focus

  33. Extremely interesting – the notion of developing three networks to be become an effective leader: operational, strategic and developmental. All involve building relationships and being able to navigate the political environment. While this advice particularly applies to people working in companies, I couldn't help but think that it also works for the entrepreneur. Building networks in support of your enterprise is just as important — I'd say even more important — than in a company. Thanks for sharing.
    My recent post PRSA Uses Crowd Sourcing for New Definition of Public Relations

  34. If a man knows how to communicate, he knows how to develop his business and life. I couldn't agree more, right?
    My recent post cosmetic dentists london

  35. Leadership is definitely about simplicity and even-handedness. When building relationships, as a leader you have to ensure you do not have, nor are perceived to have, favourites, or closer relationships with some than others… It's difficult, sometimes, as one naturally tends to gravitate to those with similar interests/background, but you have to treat all equally.

  36. Always great information from the Harvard Business School Catarina. Thanks for sharing. I probably wouldn't have seen this otherwise.

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