Sunday, June 8, 2014


As someone who plans to run for president some day, I've thought a lot about what it means to be a good leader. After much deliberation, I've settled on three primary qualities that an effective leader needs to have: charisma, authority, kindness, and efficiency.

Oh hey, that can be an acronym: CAKE. CAKE leaders are the best leaders. I'll explain what each part means.


Charisma is one of the most natural way that leaders emerge. A charismatic person is easy to like and trust, so people put their faith in charismatic people readily.

A leader without charisma has trouble being heard, and it's hard for people to feel excited working under someone without charisma. People will often follow a charismatic person even if that person has no other leadership skills--they'll just be happy hanging around the person.


Do people obey when you tell them to do something? Do they do it at once, or do you have to repeat yourself?

Authority is a quality born of experience. It's a mix of trust and tone, and it requires a fair amount of confidence to pull off well. And it's absolutely essential to a leader, since what's the point of being in charge if nobody listens to you?

Authority needs to be balanced with charisma to be truly effective. Charisma with no authority creates hangers on: people who like your company but don't obey. Authority without charisma creates obedient workers that become resentful. When people feel good about obeying your orders, though, you have loyalty.


Or, I suppose more accurately, empathy--a good leader needs to be able to read the people they lead. They should be familiar with their followers, to be able to notice when things are going well and when they're not.

Kindness also helps show that a person's loyalty is reciprocated. Good behavior is rewarded. Mistakes are learning opportunities. When something bad happens in a person's personal life, they can trust their leader to give them support.

Kindness without charisma often goes unnoticed. Kindness without authority is just friendship. A leader without empathy will find themselves surprised when things start falling apart from unnoticed conflicts, flagging enthusiasm, and anything else they might have noticed if they paid attentin to their followers.


Let's face it: a leader can't do everything on their own. If they could, they wouldn't need to lead anyone.

In fact, a truly effective leader doesn't actually need to be an expert on anything or even need to do anything themselves. People love a leader who can get their hands dirty, but at a certain point a leader can not spare the time to get personally involved in everything they want to accomplish.

Instead, a wise leader surrounds themselves with people who can do all of that--followers with expertise, followers who can get things done, and followers who can act as leaders themselves. Great leaders surround themselves with people brighter and more skilled than themselves and act as a hub between them: making decisions and settling disputes, but otherwise allowing the more effective individuals to do what they do best.

So, in short, a leader needs to be able to recognize, attract, and manage talent.

As for myself... I kinda fall short on all of these, some more than others. Heh, don't vote for me.

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