What does great leadership look like?

Written by Susie Finch on 17 August 2017 in Opinion

Susie Finch asked some of the top L&D movers and shakers to tell us about great leadership.

Great leadership means having vision, clarity, energy and, yes I know that it is a well-worn phrase, but passion! It’s about empowering people to perform at the best of their ability in order to fulfil a shared vision.

Martin Baker, founder & CEO, Clear Lessons Video @MartinCBaker


Great leadership means delivering right across the organisation in a way that helps everyone feel proud and included, and where the focus is on growth and trust. You don’t have to be a tyrant to get results, and you should lead in the way you want to be led, and help build a great place to work.

Nigel Paine, author and leadership specialist @ebase


Great leaders don’t accept ‘no’ or 'can't’ when the future is uncertain or the going gets tough. Great leadership is the ability to always bring out the best in others, through leading by example, coaching, being accessible and making smart courageous decisions that steer others whilst letting them learn.

Laura Overton, CEO, Towards Maturity @lauraoverton  @TowardsMaturity


Leaders are only as great as the positive impact they have on other people - past, present and future. Leaders are great orators and visionaries AND they're also humble and kind. Leaders are confidence-building believers AND warm-hearted compassionate humans. Leaders are responsible and generous AND serve theirs and others needs in equal measure.

Perry Timms, chief energy officer, PTHR @PerryTimms


Leadership isn't a job title, it's the attitude that you can support others so you can all achieve success together. It's a can-do attitude, taking people with you for the success of everyone, with some helpful learning along the way. 

Jo Cook, virtual classroom expert at Lightbulb Moment @LightbulbJo


Read more about leadership here

Great leadership is about a humility to listen, to learn. It's about investment in our community, not in expectation of reciprocity, but rather to help others to succeed. Great leadership is about relinquishing power and control, seeking instead a permission to help.

Julian Stodd, author and founder at Sea Salt Learning @julianstodd


Mastering the skill of leadership is difficult because there are plenty of ways to be a good leader. You can be collaborative, didactic, reflective, inspirational, to name a handful.

I think there are so many types of good leader that to be a GREAT leader requires the individual to appreciate that these different types can co-exist within you, and to switch between modes as the situation demands.

Knowing you will be dealing with different personalities and understanding that it could take something different to get the best out of each person is what makes a great leader.

Jon Kennard, Editor, Training Journal @kenjonnard @TrainingJournal


Leadership can come from anyone at any level in an organisation. It means taking responsibility in your own actions and setting an example for others to do the same.  

Donald Taylor, Chairman, Learning and Performance Institute @DonaldHTaylor


Great leaders are people in which others have confidence and respect. They have clear goals but are very open to alternative perspectives. They care about the people who work with them but are capable of making hard decisions when necessary. They are self-confident without being loud, aggressive or dominating.

Clive Shepherd, Founding Director at The More Than Blended Learning Company @cliveshepherd


Being a great leader is about identifying and demonstrating ethical and moral courage and embracing the challenges of leading people through changing times. Being confident and leading by example will engender trust and respect. This doesn’t mean being perfect and not making mistakes. It’s about being real and authentic and most of all, human. 

Liggy Webb, presenter and author of the best-selling book Resilience @LiggyW


Leadership is about having the vision to do what others haven’t considered; the courage to do what’s required - despite the risks - and the inspiration to enthuse others to willingly share the journey.

Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning & Development Content, CIPD @AndyLancasterUK


About the author

Susie Finch is a writer for Clear Lessons specialising in L&D. Clear Lessons supports the Clear Lessons Foundation (formerly known as GivebackUK) providing free resources for UK charities, their staff and volunteers – come and chat to us at stand B60 at World of Learning to find out how you can support the foundation too.

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