What Makes a Leader Great?

There are hundreds of books and articles about what makes a strong leader and they all offer insight.

My favourite leaders do the following:

  • they stand in front of you when needed,
  • they know when to stand behind you,
  • they are beside you often, and
  • they never fall on top of you or trip you.

You may be wondering what all of this means, it’s quite simple really, a great leader knows which position he/she needs to play depending on the situation.  Let me clarify, there are times when you need your leader to take the hit, to protect you from reputational risk, blame or difficult circumstances, this is the forward position a leader takes.  From this position, a leader acts as your buffer to external challenges such as those from other leaders, departments or global colleagues.  Leaders may clear the way for you to succeed.  At other times your leader wants you take the lead, he/she gives you the opportunity to shine, excel and get credit for the effort you put in. This is a public form of recognition and a way to raise your profile in a controlled, low risk manner.

The side position is all about providing support as needed, this is more of a situational position. It could be a learning opportunity when your leader works with you on a project and gives you credit for the part you played. It could also be a situation when the work is high volume or intense over a shorter period of time and you need all hands on deck. Here your leader shows they are on your team, helping you to succeed.

Finally great leaders do not fall on their team members, they don’t create an environment where team members feel the need to protect their leader. Leaders can be vulnerable but not frail. Great leaders do not blame their team members for mishaps, they support them and find the learning. This is not to say that a great leader cannot be constructive, quite the opposite, a strong leader knows how to motivate through objective feedback.

Do you know when to take the appropriate position as a leader?


Rehana Doobay is the CEO of The Talent Company (www.thetalent.co) and is responsible for creating, communicating, and implementing the vision, mission, and overall organizational strategy. Rehana also leads The Talent Company’s Leadership and Executive Coaching Practice.

Rehana has over 20 years of experience in corporate HR roles supporting clients in information technology, financial services, retail and sales. Her areas of specialty include organizational effectiveness, leadership, employee development, talent attraction and retention. She previously held the position of Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Talent and Diversity Officer at Shoppers Drug Mart and Vice President, Human Resources at American Express.

Her years supporting Fortune 500 companies across Europe and North America led her to pursue her passion for coaching, gaining certification in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University. She is attentive to the individual needs of her clients and their organizational goals. As a coach, she is able to work with clients to refine a clear roadmap to success that is reflective of their personal potential and business needs. Rehana is committed to helping individuals and organizations reach extraordinary outcomes through coaching and leadership development.

For more information on The Talent Company and our offerings please contact Rehana directly at 1-866-973-9150 or via email at rehana.doobay@thetalent.co


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