The best leaders make us better. They make us feel better about us, about them, about everything but maybe they don’t make as much money as lesser leaders. Good leaders, challenge, motivate, excite and comfort others in the organization. They forge a sense of community and provide an environment for everyone to share. Good leaders are creative, inspiring, engaging and consistent – though perhaps not rigidly so. Above all, good leaders have a certain authenticity about them. They express their individuality and personal beliefs in an honest way while communicating in a style that’s understandable and appropriate. They welcome criticism, and perhaps constructive criticism is more welcome than other kinds. And according to Michael O’Malley, a “human capital” consultant, who credits beekeeping for some insights into organizational structure, good leaders are artists.
By comparison, bad leaders are phony, inept and ordinary. They can possess one or two qualities of good leaders but overall they are mere caricatures of good leaders. As it turns out, O’Malley says that bad leaders may achieve better financial results than good leaders but they don’t provide much inspiration. In a world where corporations are driven to show results, good leaders may not always receive the deserved accolades, even as praise is lavished on the deal-makers who show better results while leaving some level of “carnage” in their wake. “Making money is not an art. Leading an organization is,” he wrote in the Harvard Business Review. Of course, if an organization doesn’t make money, there will eventually be no place to display the art regardless of its quality.