What Makes a Great Leader? Thoughts from 2017’s WIT Leadership Award Nominees

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “leader,” as a person who leads or commands a group, organization or country, but is leadership really so black and white? What qualities, characteristics and traits comprise a true leader? Since there seems to be no one answer to this difficult question, we decided to ask the 2017 WIT Leadership Award nominees to get their thoughts. What do you think? Did they hit the nail on the head?

What Makes a Great Leader?

Danelle Barrett  U.S. Navy (Women in Defense category)

“Someone with vision, tenacity, strong moral compass, conviction and courage to make tough decisions and see them through, someone who is true to their word, displays empathy and who promotes success in others.”

Shantrell Collier, (Unsung Hero category)

“The characteristics that I think make a great leader are self-awareness, empathy, and passion, among many others.  To be effective, a leader must know their own strengths and weaknesses, how they effect and influence others, and be committed to filling the gaps.”

Afua Bruce, Executive Director of the National Science and Technology Council in the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy  (Government category)

“Confidence and humility.  Provided you've worked hard and are competent, it's important to be confident in who you are and in your abilities. It's equally important, however, to remain grounded and approachable as you lead a team.”

Teresa Carroll-Childers, Director, CSC’s Global Infrastructure Services (Corporate Large Market Sector category)

“A great leader inspires change, treats others with respect, and maintains a smile.”

Nicole Carry, Solutions Architect, Electronic Systems  (Technical Leadership category)

“Great leaders can collaborate, delegate, and negotiate effectively through mutual trust.  They also create a culture that allows teams to be flexible and to learn through trial and error.”

Lynne Chamberlain, Vice President of Business Development for Red Hat (Corporate Large Market Sector category)

“Perseverance, humility, wanting to see others succeed and being great at hiring. Perseverance and humility speak for themselves, but wanting others to succeed is something I feel like ultimately makes a leader. Great leaders also understand the importance of hiring and keeping an exceptional and diverse team.”

Padma Chitrapu, Director, Analytics & Insights at Neustar (Technical Leadership category)

“The leader’s long term vision (the ability to see way beyond the next quarterly report) inspires the team to work on the right things, instead of constantly working on artificial deadlines and deliverables.  The leader’s integrity and courage of conviction(where the leader says what she means and means what she says) is critical in establishing credibility with all concerned parties.”

Sara Clark, Senior Technical Account Manager at Microsoft (Unsung Hero category)

“Integrity, intelligence, innovative, compassionate, decisiveness, embraces change and motivate others.  These characteristics build trust, drive change and help others work toward a common goal.”

Babs Doherty, Owner of Eagle Ray, Inc.  (Corporate: Small Market Sector category)

“A great leader needs to be empathetic and motivating.  People do their best work when they are supported, rather than directed.  An open conversation is important to build trust and understanding in both directions.  If a leader can understand the barriers for their team to perform, then they can take steps to clear the path so the team can perform at their best.  So – a leader needs to think creatively to get the mission completed in not-so-mainstream ways.  It’s also important to remember that the tone of the organization comes from the top, so mind your P’s and Q’s and present to your team what you want THEM to present to your customer base and the community.”

Check back for more insight from these wise women!

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