Difference Between Good And Great Leaders (With Examples)

If you plan to be a leader someday, you should know what makes a good leader. But if you want to level up, being a great leader is a must. If you’re confused about the difference between good and great leaders, I will dig deeper into it and explain it to you.

There are a few differences between good and great leaders. But the main area we’ll look at is how they function in a workplace and how they treat their members.

Good leaders often supervise the team. They always ensure that everything’s going well just by delegating tasks and then monitoring their team, nothing more, nothing less. Meanwhile, a great leader innovates and generates new ideas, always going outside the box and making things happen. They work with the team and are far more a doer than good leaders.

Well, that’s just scratching the surface because we’ll list down particular differences why I said it so. Likewise, we’ll lay down some examples so you can better understand them.

But before that, let’s do a grammar and context check first!

Introverted great leader woman

Good vs. Great 

The difference between the terms good and great is the fine line between

  • “I can do this.” AND
  • “I can’t believe I did that.”

Good is the result of hard work, diligence, and dedication. While great is the result of inspiration, innovation, and a willingness to take risks.

Good is about doing what you know how to do well. Great is about doing what no one else has done before, or at least no one has done it in quite the same way as you’re going to do it.

Good is about putting in the hours and getting things done. Great is about doing things differently and better than anyone else has ever done them before.

Good might be considered average or even mediocre. Great will always be remembered after it’s long gone from the limelight.

What I want you to know is this!

Good is the enemy of great. 

Why?

Because most of us are comfortable with being good, we’re so used to it, in fact, that we think it’s normal and expect it from ourselves and others. But it’s not normal! It’s just, you know, the average.

Meanwhile, greatness isn’t easy, but when you achieve it, the rewards are worth every second spent on the journey.

If you have plans to be a leader someday, aim to be a great one!

Differences between good and great leaders

Good leaders express what they can do. Great leaders will lead you to what you can do.

We all know the feeling of being led by a good leader. You feel empowered like you’re part of something bigger than yourself and capable of doing things you never thought possible. 

It’s a feeling that can only be achieved if your leader has invested in you as much as he or she has invested in you.

Good leaders will tell you what they can do for you and maybe even what they’ll do for your company or organization. And it’s nothing terrible.

But great leaders will take it one step further. 

  • They’ll inspire everyone around them to discover what they are capable of doing themselves.
  • They will challenge you and stretch your capabilities, but they won’t leave you hanging.
  • They’ll help you find a way to accomplish your goal by providing mentorship and support.
  • They’ll also give you the space to figure it out independently. 
  • They know that every person is different, so they tailor their approach to meet each individual’s needs.

Great leaders invest in their people by giving them opportunities to grow and develop, which helps them create strong bonds with their team members and build trust.

Example:

  1. If your leader is eager to send you to workshops, seminars, or training that could help you gain skill sets, then we could say that you have a great leader.
  2. Your leader gave you a task but refused to do so because you felt like you couldn’t. Instead of getting it back, your leader insisted more, saying he gave it to you because he knows you can do it.

Good leaders prefer words. Great leaders prefer actions.

The words are excellent. They’re a good way to express yourself and can be really important in building trust and establishing relationships with people.

However, sometimes words alone just won’t cut it. You need to prove and back up your words with action.

Good leaders know this, which is why they often say things like

  • “I can’t wait until we get there!”
  • “This is going to be amazing!” 

But as soon as they get there, they’re busy doing something else. That’s why we say good leaders prefer words. They don’t actually hold on to their promises.

Great leaders, on the other hand, are not afraid of action.

In fact, they often take action before anyone else even realizes what needs to be done! They don’t wait for someone else to direct them on what needs doing. They just do it! 

Being proactive and anticipatory are vital characteristics of great leaders. They don’t wait. They make it happen! That’s what I call visionary.

Example:

  1. You had a meeting for a new project. As usual, new projects can be overwhelming. Leaders also feel overwhelmed, but if you have a great leader, you’ll notice him being quiet during the meeting, as if he has nothing to say. But you’ll be surprised the next day; he already has a plan and roadmap for the said project.

Good leaders supervise the hard work OF the team. Great leaders lead and work WITH the team.

Leadership is about serving and lifting others up to achieve more than they thought possible. 

  • A good leader knows that we all need a bit of guidance now and then.
  • A great leader knows how to be an inspiring people to go above and beyond what they thought possible, and that’s not something that can happen in isolation.

The best leaders know they are obligated to their teams, but they also don’t forget they are part of a team. They know there’s no such thing as I and WE but simply “US.”

Example

  1. Whenever projects need to be done, a good leader assigns tasks and monitors the team every now and then. That’s it 
  2. A great leader will work hand in hand with his team to accomplish their goals. 

Good leaders have the attitude to drive a team. Great leaders build rapport to lead a team.

In today’s world, it’s easy to think about a leader as someone who has all the answers. But the truth is great leaders don’t have all the answers. They just know how to get them.

Great leaders can build rapport with their team members to learn what they need to know and get everyone on board with the necessary changes. 

They do this in the following ways.

  • Showing genuine interest in the people, they’re working with.
  • Make sure they understand where each person is coming from before moving forward.
  • Taking time to talk to their members.
  • Avoid being too serious and strict. That could draw the lines in between.

If you want to be someone who can drive your team forward instead of having them drag you along, start by building rapport!

Rapport is the connection you have between your members. It is essential in making things work and boosting productivity.

Example

  1. Your boss talks to you as his members ask how your day was or even crack some jokes.
  2. The environment where a great leader rules are light and less toxic.

Good leaders will leave a feeling of superiority to their members. Great members will leave a sense of inclusivity.

What does it mean to feel superior? 

  • It’s a lot like feeling like you’re better than someone else like you’re above them somehow.
  • You make it look like they have less value than you.

And what does it mean to feel inclusivity? It’s just the opposite! Inclusivity is when everyone feels included and valued, regardless of how they compare with others.

Always remember that greatness is inclusive. It’s the feeling that everyone who comes together to accomplish something is an equal part of their accomplishments.

Example

  1. A leader creates brainstorming sessions to gather insights and ideas from his team members. He just can’t decide independently because he believes it’s teamwork. So, if your boss considers and hears your voice before making decisions, then you’re on the right side.

As a leader, your power includes making people feel like they’re being included or making them feel like they’re not good enough

Good leaders want to be liked. Great leaders want to be respected.

There’s a thick line between being liked and being respected. 

  • Being liked means that people like you personally. You’re friendly, kind, and easy to get along with. 
  • Being respected means that people see your leadership skills as valuable. They see you as capable of making decisions that are in the best interest of the group or company as a whole.

Good leaders are often good friends, while great leaders are often admired by their followers despite their flaws. 

But in reality, people respect leaders who can make tough calls and stick by them, even when those calls don’t align with what the rest of us might want or think is right.

Being a good leader is nothing wrong!

As you can see, the whole discussion focuses on the greatness of great leaders. But I want to reiterate those good leaders are also leaders and that they should still be followed.

It’s just that good leaders are only the average of what leadership should be. So if you want to be on top of the competition and someone that professionals and people will respect, you need to be a great leader.

Remember

Both types of leaders can provide guidance and support. However, they differ in their ways and intensities.

Dear future leaders!

If you’re here, chances are you’re a leader, a member, or someone preparing to be a leader. If you’re on the latter part, here are the things I want you to take note of.

You need to be self-aware.

Self-awareness is a powerful thing. It’s the ability to see yourself as you are and accept your flaws, yet still, see all the good in yourself.

Being self-aware is vital if you want to be a leader someday. If you want people to trust your decisions and follow them willingly, they need to know that you know who you are and what you’re made of.

You must focus on developing your members and not just yourself.

The game is not just focused solely on you. It’s where teamwork happens a lot, and even though you’re the leader, you need to know that the best output comes from the best minds. So if you target to have the best minds in your team, then you need to exert effort in nurturing your members. 

By taking care of your members, you can ensure healthy members that can achieve productivity.

You should promote strategic thinking instead of spoon-feeding.

This means that instead of spoon-feeding people their work, you need to start thinking about how they will fit into the bigger picture.

Strategic thinking is all about ensuring that everyone on your team knows their role and how vital it is for them to do their part in getting things done. 

It doesn’t just mean thinking about the work that everyone else needs. It also means thinking about how they can do better next time or how they can handle themselves better in stressful situations.

You must uphold ethics.

Ethics are the foundation of being a great leader.

If you want to lead, it’s important to remember that ethics are not just about following the rules. They’re about doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

You should practice effective communication.

It’s not always about being the most intelligent person in the room or having the most significant ideas. It’s about communicating those ideas to your team so they can help you make them happen.

You should know that effective communication is a critical skill everyone needs. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager or a member. You need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively to succeed.

Our final take

The difference between good and great leaders isn’t that they have more power or know how to make better decisions. They’re able to inspire their followers to be better versions of themselves. They can use their strengths as a platform for their team members’ success.

I hope this article helped you see the difference between good and great leaders. Good leaders don’t always become great leaders, and vice versa. However, with a little extra effort, it is possible to go from good to great. And once you’ve reached that level, there’s no going back!

Garo Kotchounian

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