What Makes a Good Leader? If You Lead Gen Y’s, You’d Better Find Out.

What makes a good leader? Each leader surely has his or her own thoughts on this.  And so do those who are required to follow that leader.  If leader and follower do not value the same characteristics, trouble may follow. A recent survey may provide some helpful insight to this question.  The survey looked at the attributes that individuals value most in a leader. 

Respondents ranked the following characteristics as contributing the most to an individual’s ability to lead:

85%  Accountable

82%  Knowledgeable

81%  Honest

78%  Effective

78%  Integrity

76%  Good listener

72%  Flexible

69%  People Person

68%  Visionary

62%  Inspiring

59%  Intelligent

57%  Creative

55%  Experienced

54%  Strong

The highest rank trait, “Accountable,” is defined as “is responsible, admits and learns from mistakes.”  Not too surprising.  Accountability is integral to gaining respect from others.  Accountability includes not just taking blame but it also means not taking credit that belongs to others.  Those who are charged with the responsibility of a leader but who steal credit from their reports will not likely go far in the leadership ring. 

But, as BusinessWeek reports in Gen Y: It’s What You Know, the results of the survey that are a bit more surprising involve generational perspectives. Once again, Gen Y stands apart from its Boomer and Gen X colleagues.  

Gen Xers and Boomers both selected “Accountable” as the most important quality in leaders, with Boomers ranking it slightly higher.  (88% vs. 83%).  But Gen Y didn’t see accountability as the most important.  Instead, Gen Y selected “Knowledgeable” as most important. (79%).

The quality rated the most different?  Integrity. It was rated as Very Important by 66% of Ys, while 76% of Xers and 84% of Boomers thought it was Very Important.