What do you think are the hallmarks of great leadership? In this article, I’m sharing my thoughts on the most important action items for aspiring leaders.

Remember: being a leader is a trained skill (more on this below), and the following are great to kickstart your journey to becoming a great one. 

Bosses and Delegation

I came across Jaime on Twitter (or X now), and he offered a summary of great ways to look at leadership. Here’s a screenshot of his post: 

Bosses and Delegation

The second point — people quit bosses, not companies —  is the most important one here. 

If you ask someone how it is to work at their company, you’re going to get different answers. However, it’s often true that the day-to-day manager or leader you’re working with will have the most impact on your business. 

In other words: if you’re trying to be a good leader, you must foster a good workplace for your direct reports to work in — if every leader in your company does this, the business will move forward as a whole. 

On to Jaime’s next point:

Bosses and Delegation

This one sounds fairly straightforward. However, delegation can be quite tricky. Many leaders struggle because they’ve been the people who do things for most of their careers. 

However, if you want to move forward as a leader, you must delegate tasks. 

Find people who do such tasks as well as or better than you can. Give those tasks to them. They might need some guidance or assistance, so feel free to upskill them. The point is to free up your time so you can focus more on leadership-oriented activities.

Actionable Tips You Can Use Today

While those two are the overarching points of good leadership, you can still follow many actionable tips on how you can be a great leader. Here are some great ones from Brett Adcock.

Offer Solutions, Not Problems

Offer Solutions, Not Problems

This one’s easy to say but hard to do — whenever you come to a meeting, make sure you’re offering a solution and not just pointing at a problem. 

Speaking of meetings… here’s the second one:

No Agenda = No Meeting

No Agenda = No Meeting

This second practice is heavily publicized by companies like Amazon. There must be an agenda before they go into a meeting. 

I’m sure you’ve been in meetings with no agenda at least once in your life. These meetings just go on for so long. To prevent that, there must be an agenda, and minutes must be taken. Otherwise, there’s no meeting. 

The Devil is in the Details

The Devil is in the Details

While it’s true that the best leaders don’t get lost or too attached to details, they’re still involved. Even though you’re concentrating on training and upskilling your staff, you still need to be in the details. 

Once you lose your concept of details, your strengths become less important. So make sure you stay obsessed with the details — because that’s what most people won’t do.



This is an important piece of advice and one that we really push in Flying Donkey.

When you share a message, make sure it’s fully contextualized. It should have all the information necessary for someone to understand it. These may include recaps of previous conversations, evidences, and responses. 

Overcommunicating is a must.

The Gift of Feedback

The Gift of Feedback

Put another way: when someone gives you feedback, don’t take it personally. Or when feedback is given, look at the positives. If they’re giving you criticisms, look at it positively — this is how you become an improved person over time. 

If you’re a leader, and someone says you’re asking your staff to work too hard, that’s not just criticism for you — they’re giving you feedback. If someone says you raise your voice too much, try to see what you can do to fix things. Plan to lower your voice or speak in a different way. 

Too many people take offense to feedback. One reason is that the feedback isn’t delivered in the best way. 

However, if you can look past that as a leader, you take feedback on board and improve yourself. It’s the cheat code to ever-incremental improvements. 

What if you believe you’re just not “born” a leader?

Leadership is Learned

Leadership is Learned

I’ve had conversations with my internal staff and clients about this. Too many people think they’re either a leader or not — this is completely false. 

Everyone can learn to be a leader. 

Some people are more naturally attuned to being a leader than others. That’s true. But like sport or anything else, you can train to become one. 

Being a leader is about working things out, and over time, you will improve at leading.

Integrity > Everything

Integrity > Everything

There’s a saying that goes, “You gotta do what you gotta do.” 

Everyone makes mistakes, and people may not want to do what they have to do. But when these situations happen to you, own up to it. 

Know the mistakes you’ve made and understand what led to them, and then propose a solution. Remember: leadership is about taking responsibility and moving on to the next stage. Take any feedback on board, and get to the next level until you see results.

Study the Results

Study The Results

Results happen because of actions. And sometimes, you don’t really know what’s happening. 

So, when you get the results you want, look at how you achieved them and look back. This is common in agile methodology and software development. We do retrospectives in sprints and look at what we’ve done. We check what went well and what didn’t. 

If you apply this to your personal life and leadership style, you can improve drastically.

Don’t be the Bottleneck

Don’t be the Bottleneck

This is what I truly try to practice myself. If something comes to me, I’m either going to do it straight away or will delegate someone else to do it to move things forward. This way, I make sure I don’t cause any bottlenecks. 

When you start being the bottleneck, people will start going around you. And when people go around you, you’re not a true leader. 

Overall, avoiding being the bottleneck is a great metric to live by. This goes back to the previous points we’ve discussed. Delegate tasks, or do things yourself and get into the details. Whichever the case is, keep the process moving. 

Do the Work

Do the Work

I’ll combine the last two points in this section. One is to be an individual contributor, and the other is to do the work. 

Being a leader isn’t just about sitting there and watching the troops. You also have to get in and do the work. If you’re working alongside your team, they’ll look up to you a lot more. 

Considering the points we’ve talked about delegating, you also can’t be in the trenches doing all the work all the time. Find the balance between doing work yourself and delegating tasks to move things forward. 

I’ve seen leaders get lost when they don’t do any work. They lose the details and end up not knowing what’s going on — they ultimately lose respect for their team. As a result, you should still do some of the work to keep yourself current.

Bonus Tip: Learn from Ted Lasso

Finally, we can learn something from Ted Lasso, a TV show set in London about a soccer coach. The show embodies plenty of leadership skills, and I’ve found a great Ted Lasso review video that summarizes them. 

If you don’t have time to watch the video, here are the qualities that it says we can learn from Ted Lasso for being a leader: 

  • Make everyone feel important and that they matter
  • Be a team player
  • Encourage and create lieutenants 
  • Solicit and accept feedback 
  • Have empathy
  • Celebrate other people’s wins
  • Create belief 
  • Don’t deny reality

Some of these might sound generic, but they can help you improve every day and become a better leader.

The Bottom Line

At Flying Donkey, we try and help our leaders improve every day. This helps us build a better team culture, allowing us to deliver better for our clients. You and I can always improve as leaders — but it’s something that all of us should work on, so I highly recommend practicing the above points. Work on one of them per month. 

If you need some leadership assistance, feel free to reach out to us at Flying Donkey. We’re happy to answer your questions and guide you on your path to a successful software project.