20 Ways to Spot Leaders with Understanding


All foolish leaders believe they understand things they don’t.

Foolish leaders:

  1. Are cocky not confident – fearful.
  2. Pretend they like you when they don’t – manipulator.
  3. Reject authority – arrogant.
  4. Express anger quickly – impulsive.
  5. Blab rather than listen – know-it-all.

Leaders with understand know they don’t fully understand.

Leaders with understanding:

  1. Seek guidance as passionately as profit.
  2. Remain open and interested. Weak minds close; strong open. Fools know.
  3. Don’t have that, “can’t wait till you stop talking,” look in their eye.
  4. Speak well of others. Fools badmouth.
  5. Lean into insights from others wholeheartedly. Wise leaders always have stories about their wise teachers.
  6. Know how to change their mind without becoming wishy-washy.
  7. Spend time in self-reflection.
  8. Receive correction humbly and gratefully.
  9. Submit to, align with, and model organizational values.
  10. Remain cool when things get hot. People with understanding enjoy inner calm.
  11. Display optimism.
  12. Maintain focus.
  13. Know it takes time for people to say things they really believe. The first things people say usually aren’t the most important.
  14. Have track records of personal achievement.
  15. Resist pressure to conform with grace rather than anger. Weakness lashes out and bullies.
  16. Learn from the mistakes of others.
  17. Never laugh at injustice, scoff at abuse, or take advantage of those without power.
  18. Admire wisdom. The people you admire tell me who you want to be.
  19. Love learning. Ask leaders with understanding what they’re reading and their eyes light up.
  20. Development others.

Bonus: Leaders with understanding appreciate the wonder, privilege, and mystery of leadership.

Have you worked with a leader who had understanding? What were they like?

Which marks of understand do you find most important or challenging?

Check out the great list of leadership U’s on the Leadership Freak Facebook Page. While you’re there, add leadership V’s for tomorrow’s post.