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Martin C. Doege January 10, 2008
1. A good leader primarily places demands upon himself before demanding things from others. What he seeks most is to be perfect himself and to serve as a good example. 2. A good leader knows (from personal experience) that perfection is often only achieved after errors and diﬃculties, therefore he acknowledges errors (in his own work and that of others) and moves on, trying not to repeat the error and remaining conﬁdent about what he does—he does not get “stuck” because of a problem. If necessary, he changes gears for a while, follows a slightly diﬀerent road, until he has gained the necessary understanding to solve his original problem. He knows that reaching a higher level of understanding sometimes involves activity that some people like to call “games”, “procrastination”, or “not pertinent”, but he knows better than that. 3. A good leader wants to be able to understand and do things on his own (although once he has understood how they work he should delegate them, either to other people or a machine—he should not get into a false competition with the people he is leading). A good leader is curious about how things work exactly; he cares about the road, not just the eventual outcome. 4. A good leader knows that self-control and self-restraint are the basis of good leadership. To to be able to lead others one must ﬁrst be able to lead oneself. That does not mean that a leader should not show emotions; particularly positive emotions are necessary for good leadership at all times. He knows that being an inspiration to others is partly based on intellect and partly on feeling. 5. A good leader is conﬁdent and bases his decisions on his permanent values, not on outside conditions that may vary from day to day. He listens to 1
advice, but also considers if the person giving the advice has been following that advice himself in his life or not. 6. A good leader leads and learns by example, knowing that when he starts a project the right way, it will be gladly picked up by the people he is leading. But of course the ultimate responsibility for the project rests (in his mind) primarily on his shoulders, no matter who is doing most of the actual work—after all he is the leader. 7. A good leader tries to discover leadership potential is people around him and is never afraid if somebody with leadership abilities turns up in his circle. Rather, he encourages and mentors him, but also gives him ample room to make his own mistakes (see point 1). A good leader knows that good leadership skills are partly inborn, but also partly learned, and require mentoring—they are a rare commodity. 8. A good leader is always willing to learn new things or to consider ideas from anyone, without prejudice. He is not arrogant and thinks of the opinions of his inferiors as genuinely important and worthy of consideration, without letting his behavior be dictated by them. He knows when to be stubborn and when to give in. 9. A good leader knows that most people do not want to lead themselves, but rather want to be led wisely. He knows that leadership is a privilege and obligation, not an entitlement. 10. A good leader sometimes sets aside his day-to-day activities and thinks about the grand perspective, about whether his work is ethical, honorable, and serves the whole of humanity, he looks for more abstract ways of thinking about the big picture, he mulls the nature of leadership itself. And if he has found out something worthwhile he tries to communicate it to others (see point 7).