4 Keys for Great Leadership


This past year, I learned a lot about leadership.  Leadership is something you build over time with each person and every interaction.  It comes from your value system, work ethic, and what you do when no one is watching.

I have had the privilege to work with people from every background and nationality.  What seems clear to me is that good leaders have these qualities: (1) they are good listeners, (2) effective communicators, (3) have a heart for teaching and sharing knowledge, and (4) they live by principles that guide their business and life.

Effective Listening is Key

Good leaders do not know it all, and they are not afraid to say “I don’t know.”  Also, a good leader does not think he or she is the smartest person in the room.  They allow people to interact, learn and teach each other.  They actually listen to what you have to say, and are not just waiting until you stop talking to get their point across.

I occasionally check myself to make sure that I continue developing good listening skills by following these tips:

  • Let the person finish his/her thought without interruption
  • Paraphrase what was said or ask a question if you did not fully understand the point
  • Engage everyone in the conversation, if possible
  • Show consideration and respect for opinions that vary from your own.  Effective leaders should not dismiss or belittle those who are not in agreement

Communication is Key

A leader must be a good communicator, and you cannot do that unless you are a good listener.  Along with listening you also must be able to articulate your thoughts, goals and ideas in a way that others understand and can follow.  Good leaders know what to say, how to say it and when to say it.

They can communicate their vision, provide a criticism with respect, and can motivate with passion.

Great Teaching is Key

Leaders share their knowledge and are great teachers.  I have learned so much from many entrepreneurs and leaders in their field who have given suggestions, tips, and step-by-step instructions on how to do things in order to avoid costly mistakes that they may have made.

They were not afraid to share their knowledge because they did not see me as competition.  They are confident in their own space that the value of working with them is not in what they do, but in who they are.  They are unique and cannot be duplicated – and they know it.

These leaders are truly happy and inspired by your success.  They personally reach out and encourage you when you have a setback.  These people are transparent and authentic.

As I continue my journey, I want to make sure that I am sharing what I have learned by connecting with new business owners. I want to share my startup headaches and successes in order to help others.

Personal Values is Key

Along with listening and communicating, good leaders live by the standards to which they hold others.  They are grounded in their ethical system, i.e., religious beliefs, focus on nature or meditation, or the principles they use as a guide for their life.  Whatever their value system, it is with them in everything they do, and these principles are not discarded depending on the situation.  It is in them.

I have had the most success working with people who love what they do, are transparent in their dealings, and who are consistent and committed to who they are and the services they provide.

Final Thoughts

I get up every morning and pinch myself because I am living my dream.  It has been scary, amazing, hard, overwhelming and exciting.  In short, it has been a true rollercoaster ride.

With all the ups and downs of business, it is so important to have these leadership qualities in order to make good decisions and build lasting relationships.  Some things to remember:

  • Listen so that you can better understand
  • Respect the opinions of others
  • Share your knowledge
  • Stay true to your belief system, and conduct business by principles that guide your life

These are all qualities of an effective leader.
Earline Marshall is President and CEO of Marshall Management Group, LLC., The Management Experts who specialize in administration, grant research and writing, project management, event planning and communication. She can be reached at