What differentiates Average Leaders from Good Leaders?


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One of the characteristics that differentiates good leaders from average leaders is their ability to develop a T shaped characteristics. So, what does being T shaped mean?

There are three characteristics when it comes to being a T shaped leader – Linking, Thinking and Doing.


Linking is all about the ability to link disparate things together to come up with novel ideas. This is the ability of mix and match both common things but even more importantly things that are not necessarily seen as matching.

This is also the ability to cross-pollinate ideas, people and thought processes. This is also the ability to synthesize everything that they come across and make sense of all the different things that they face and experience.

This is also the ability to facilitate conversations and allowing new and novel ideas emerge from what we already know.

This is also akin to filling structural holes within our networks so that we create new connections where none existed.


Thinking is the ability to observe what is happening around us and see things that most of us miss. The ability to see and observe things that everyone sees but no one notices or everyone notices but fail to understand its significance for us and our world.

This is our ability to empathise with people – those whom we lead (our teams), those whom we follow (our senior leaders) and those for whom we turn up for work (customers, partners or our community). Doing this to truly understand what they need and see past what they think they want.

This is also our ability to engage in divergent / convergent thinking to come up with novel ideas using our imagination, interaction with our colleagues through brainstorming sessions.


This is the ability to bring our ideas to life through the depth of our expertise. This is all about showcasing our ability to execute on the ideas that we have come up using thinking and linking.

This is also the ability to know what could be linked and where do we need to think more deeply about. This is our specialisation. This is our skills honed through years of practice.

All the linking and thinking that leads up to creative ideas to solve difficult problems is of no use unless we are able to do what needs to be done to bring them to life.

Sometimes, this requires us to prototype.

Sometimes, this requires us to test them out in the real world.

Sometimes, this requires us to put in place implementation plans.

All said and done, we need to be able to bring our ideas to life.

In conclusion:

In conclusion, all I can say is that good leaders know how to do all the three things – Thinking, Linking and Doing. They also know when to think, when to link and when it is time to take action. And they are also able to easily switch between each one of these modes as needed.

While each leader has a preferred zone of operation, the ability to move between them as needed is what separates good leaders from average one’s. The ability to get our teams to be able to do this is what separates great leaders from good one’s.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mukesh Gupta
I currently work for SAP as Customer advocate. In this capacity, I am responsible to ensure that the voice of the customer is being heard and play the bridge between customers and SAP. Prior to joining SAP, I have worked with different organizations serving in different functions like customer service, logistics, production planning & sales, marketing and business development functions. I was also the founder-CEO of a start-up called "Innovative Enterprises". The venture was in the retail & distribution business. I blog at http://rmukeshgupta.com.


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