What traits make a brilliant leader? Intelligence, decisiveness, confidence, creativity, vision? How about all of those and a bit of je ne sais quoi thrown in.
Funny, while kindness is a highly valued trait in our personal lives (who doesn’t want a kind partner, or parents?), not many people immediately associate kindness with great leadership – why is that?
Rosie Campbell is professor of politics and director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London. She believes that when we look for leaders all too often we fall back on stereotypes that emphasise “confidence and charisma over the delivery of results”.
She references Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s excellent 2019 book Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? In it, the author points out that although men make up the majority of leaders, they underperform when compared with women in that position. “Most organisations equate leadership potential with a handful of destructive personality traits, like overconfidence and narcissism. Those traits may help someone get selected for a leadership role, but they backfire once the person has the job. When competent women – and men who don't fit the stereotype – are unfairly overlooked, we all suffer the consequences. The result is a deeply flawed system that rewards arrogance rather than humility, and loudness rather than wisdom,” reads the book’s introductory blurb.