The question of what makes a good leader is a topic that still has no clear-cut answer. The truth is that every great leader has a particular leadership style, so what works well for one leader does not always work for others. That being said, no matter what an individual leader’s leadership style is, there are a few qualities, traits, or habits common to all effective leaders. No matter how calm, cool, collected, sure, or in control, a leader may appear to be in public or in front of those they seek to lead, perhaps the surest hallmark of a great leader is their insecurity in their own decision making.
There is an old saying that if you think you’re crazy, you’re probably not. Truly insane people are most often those least likely to question their sanity. The same is true, in a sense, of great leaders. Great leaders are not, in fact, supremely confident in their power, skills, or decisions. They understand that sometimes you have to make a decision and go with it. Once you do, however, then you need to stick to it to the bitter end.
In reality, however, leaders will often second guess their choices unceasingly in either the confines of their mind or in the presence of a few trusted friends or counselors. Believe it or not, this is the hallmark of a great leader. In sports, most top athletes will generally spend hours watching “tape” of their performances again and again. No matter how flawlessly they execute specific plays, what they tend to focus on is their mistakes, which they will watch repeatedly. This hyper-focus on what they got wrong is what helps them grow and get better. No matter how seasoned an athlete is, the more they focus on what they got wrong, the better they become. The same is true of leaders.
Great leaders will engage in a sort of constant introspection called critical reflection that is similar to an athlete watching tape of their mistakes over and over. Rather than being supremely confident in their decisions, great leaders understand that there is always room for improvement and growth, and this critical reflection is how they achieve it.