There are many things I do not know about working with people or leading a company, but I do know that people want to work with people they trust. Honesty is like being pregnant, you either are or you are not.
Working with a leader that you trust could be the most important reason people stay with a company long term. I have witnessed many great senior leaders up close like Bill Marriott of Marriott International, Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops, Kirk Kinsell of Intercontinental Hotels, Truett Cathy of Chick-Fil-A, and Senators and Congressmen from Georgia. In every case, they were loved by the people that worked with them.
These leaders were approachable and looked people in the eye when they spoke, actually listening when people talked to them. They all had an open door policy, meaning they were accessible. They will also tell you the truth, not just so you feel good, but so you know really where you stand.
In my opinion, you can take all the education, fancy suits, and expensive cars and they are worthless attributes of a leader if that leader does not have the two characteristics he/she really needs: honesty and transparency. You have seen people, just like I have, that are in leadership roles and after you meet them you feel like you need a shower.
I recall one person in particular that was the head of a global hospitality practice group; when I met him, I knew I didn’t have to worry about his company beating our company in the marketplace. He would not look me in the eye, had slick gelled hair, alligator shoes, and was a true bonehead. He thought that looks and graduating from an Ivy League college was going to get him respect. He was wrong, and the company he worked with let him go only after a very short period of time.
To lead, you obviously need to know what you are talking about and have knowledge of your business. Beyond that, you really need the attributes that education or entitlement will not teach you and that is an honest spirit and the ability to be trusted. KT