Nicole Monturo is an accomplished executive and leadership expert.

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How to Define a Great Leader

According to, a leader is the one in the charge and the person who convinces other people to follow. But they define a great leader as one inspires confidence in other people and moves them to action. There are many ways to define a great leader — just ask Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes! Below is a short list what being a great leader means to me.

A great leader is accountable for their actions.

When something goes wrong, great leaders take responsibility for everyone’s actions by putting it upon themselves for the company’s failure, and they don’t put the blame on anyone else. To alleviate the problem, leaders jump in with their subordinates to help find a solution and get business back on track as soon as possible. Even when business is smooth sailing, great leaders give praise when it’s appropriate, look for ways to improve their company, and consistently check on their employees to see there are any small issues that can be addressed before it becomes a bigger problem.

A great leader believes honesty is the best policy.

Leaders who are ethical and honest with their subordinates believe in the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Leaders want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from their employees, regardless if it’s good or bad news. Leaders set the standards by being completely honest and ethical with everyone so their employees will reciprocate the gesture. By building a relationship based on trust, openness, and ethics, great leaders believe honesty is the best policy.

A great leader is empathetic to their employees.

Great leaders keep the thoughts and feelings of their employees in the back of their mind, and are understanding to their employees when personal or family emergencies arise. If an employee’s work performance suffers because of an external factor, great leaders may privately inquire about the employee’s personal life, and are often supportive.

A great leader sets clear guidelines.

Nothing is worse than a leader who doesn’t set clear expectations — it sends their employees into a frenzy! A great leader sets guidelines from day one, follows through with said guidelines, clearly communicates what they expect, sets deadlines, and doesn’t give anyone special treatment. Clear guidelines will minimize frustration and confusion among employees, and they will feel more at ease and confidently do their jobs. Clarity is the pathway to solid results.

A great leader is approachable.

Everyone has different communication styles. Some employees come from a different cultural background and their people skills might be different than what you’re used to. Some employees might not speak your language as fluently, and therefore have difficulty understanding workplace expectations. Some employees may have different personality than you. Some employees may respond well to a certain leadership style, while others may not and feel pressured. Regardless of the differences, a great leader is approachable and shows flexibility. Leaders who adopt the “door is always open” policy are viewed at the most approachable leaders.

How do you define a great leader?


nicole monturo twitter

Leadership Twitter Accounts to Follow

With the internet being the wealth of information that it is, it can sometimes be hard to even know where to start looking for things. If you simply search for “leadership advice,” you’re going to be greeted with a barrage of ‘how-tos’ and advice from people ranging from well-seasoned professional executives to high school students. So how do you know where to find timely, knowledgeable resources that will give you the answers that you need? Well, many people use Twitter.

Since I’m also a huge foodie on top of my day job, I regularly tweet about primarily recipes I’ve tried or foods that look particularly yummy. However, as much as I turn to Twitter for food inspiration, I also use it as my source of daily inspiration and resource for all things leadership. While I follow a lot of accounts, there are a few leadership Twitter accounts that I’ve found to be particularly helpful and insightful. Here are my favorite leadership accounts to follow.

If you’re looking for prime leadership advice from all the top experts in the field, the Forbes Leadership Twitter account is one for you. Their bio boasts “Insights on leadership in every aspect of business and life for executives, aspiring leaders, and everyone else from Forbes,” and they live up to their words. Their most recent tweets include tips on dressing like a leader, the importance of connecting as a team, and how to navigate company culture, all important things to consider and be aware of as a leader.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a Harvard Business School professor, so it’s not surprising that she re-tweets the Harvard Business Review regularly, but her curated tweets are a wealth of information on being a leader and inspiring change in others. She’s also the author of the book MOVE: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead.

Bill George tweets often on the importance of collaboration and teamwork in business. He is a Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School and previously served as the CEO of Medtronic, so he’s got many years of leadership under his belt. George is also a bestselling leadership author; his book, the wildly popular “True North,” features interviews with over 100 other leaders on the merits of “authentic leadership” and has earned a place on the Warren Bennis Books Series.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker from the great state of New Jersey tweets a lot about politics – obviously – but it’s his leadership insights and words on finding the best in one another that really make his account worth following. He’s a proponent for the underdog and advocates for equality and positive change.


nicole monturo kindergarten

Leadership Lessons You Learned in Kindergarten

Becoming a leader of any form takes practice, patience, skill, insight, and time. It’s not something that happens overnight. While it does take a lot of specialization to become an effectual leader, a lot of the fundamental ideals and principles taught are not new concepts; many of us have been receiving little lessons in leadership from the time we were old enough to go to school. Although we were not being told explicitly that what we were learning were leadership based, these more or less ‘common sense’ lessons we’re taught at a young age lay the groundwork for some important leadership ideologies. While we may not have become experts at the time, here are a few of the leadership lessons that you learn as early as kindergarten.

  • When you mess up, you say sorry.

When a child makes a mess or breaks something that belongs to someone else, they’re taught to own up to their failure and say that they’re sorry. When it comes to being a leader, by this point you’ve likely realized that human beings, yourself included, aren’t perfect. Unfortunately, there’s no leadership tip that tells you how to be perfect, so the best that you can do is take ownership of your errors and apologize for any resulting problems.

  • Sharing is caring

One thing that effective leaders know is the importance of helping others, and this simple human kindness is one we’re taught as children. Leaders must demonstrate sharing in several different ways. First, most leaders are looked to as sources of knowledge or information. To effectively lead those looking to you for guidance, you need to share the wisdom and lessons you’ve learned with them. The second type of sharing is more external: as a leader when someone on your team does a particularly good job or finally overcomes a hurdle, it’s your job to share in their excitement, share their good news with the rest of the team, and have them share particular insights about what made them successful. Your job as a leader is to call forth the best in your team and help them actualize their potential. This includes encouraging them during moments when they excell.

  • Slow and steady

Much like the classic fable taught to children about the tortoise and the hare, in life most things cannot be rushed. Children are taught the importance of hard, consistent work over rushing through tasks, and this lesson carries importance through life. Good things take time, and if you try to rush them, your work at the end won’t be your best. When planning a project that will require input and assistance from multiple people, take the time to make sure that everyone fully understands his or her responsibilities. While some people will be chomping at the bit to get started, it’s more important to make sure everyone is up to speed than to get a speedy start.

nicole monturo books

The Best Books On Leadership

The Reading List For Leaders

Leadership is not merely earning a position; it is a process to always work for the betterment of yourself and your employees. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for becoming a strong leader; and with the diversity of technology in the workplace, you may find as a leader that there’s a lot you still need to learn. Still, one of the hallmarks of a strong leader is a constant pursuit of self-education, and in keeping with this, I’d like to discuss some notable books that all leaders, current or aspiring, should read.

Adaptive Leadership by Roselinde Torres, Martin Reeves, and Claire Love

The long-held perception of a leader is of an individual that spearheads and singlehandedly leads an organization to success. However, the idea of a single, dominant leader simply does not work in this day and age. Adaptive Leadership posits that a company must be invigorated by a free flow of ideas and information between employees, with leaders willing to take risks and listen to advice from their subordinates.

This book states that modern leaders should be able to lead with empathy and create a collaborative environment that rewards experimentation and unconventional thinking.

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Teams are never homogeneous. As a leader, you will have to reconcile a variety of personalities at all times, a practice put to the test in times of crisis. Team of Rivals describes Lincoln’s struggle to unite the country to abolish slavery, surrounding himself with a diverse team of individuals unafraid to challenge him. Kearns Goodwin depicts Lincoln as a humble leader, one that understood the value of working with others of differing opinions.

Lincoln’s understanding and compassion earned the respect of his cabinet members; and any leader can stand to learn from his willingness to listen to others.

Thinking In New Boxes by Luc De Brabandere and Alan Iny

Any company should be unafraid to experiment and work with new ideas. For instance, BIC, a pen company, took the risk of selling disposable pens and wound up carving themselves a niche with other disposable items.

Moreover, it’s not just about a one time effort—businesses should always test the limits of what’s possible and constantly reevaluate the spaces that they work in.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Any leader should be prepared to confront adversity. Endurance tells the story of Ernest Shackleton’s ill fated expedition to Antarctica. Perhaps losing a deal is not as dire as a voyage through Arctic oceans, but Shackleton’s determination and courage were responsible for keeping a disaster from being a tragedy.

The Social Animal by David Brooks

Perhaps a more unconventional choice than the other books on this list, The Social Animal follows two fictional characters throughout their lives and their relationship, peppering their experience with Brooks’ own research on human psychology and social norms. It’s a case study and deconstruction of modern culture and the notion of success; as leadership is redefined as a concept, Brooks similarly makes points about human achievement on a broader scale.

A great read for any leaders interested the primal forces that drive us as individuals and members of society.

Personal History by Katharine Graham

As the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, Katharine Graham fought hard to build up the Washington Post after her husband’s suicide. Graham’s constant learning and struggles against her husband’s abuse to find success is moving and an excellent story about overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s a very personal biography, one that gives you firsthand insight into Graham’s strife and eventual victory. Personal History is an inspiration to me and an excellent read for anyone that feels that they cannot overcome their own circumstances.

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