“To be a good leader,” lectured a university professor, “you have to build up morale, appreciate what others do, pat’em on the back, show them that you care. Take care of your people; they will take care of you.”
A hardened, construction superintendent addressed his team. “All of you need to know that I expect you to work hard every day. We will stay on schedule and we will follow all safety processes. I’m not here to win a popularity contest. I’m here to get the job done. If you accept that, we will get along fine.”
Who’s right? The polished college professor or the crusty, construction leader?
“It depends on the situation,” you say? In some cases, fun-loving, pat-them-on-the back cheerleaders win the day. In other cases, the no nonsense, get’er-done drill sergeant fills the bill.
Some argue that the really good leaders toggle back and forth between people-pleasers and task-oriented grinders.
Personally, I think Sam Walker, in his book “The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership,” has a better answer. Great leaders are relentless (They do not quit.), and they exhibit ironclad emotional control (Don’t get too high; don’t get too low). Most other traits are inconsequential.