What does it take to be a good leader? | Surfshark

The internet is teeming with articles about what traits make a great team leader. But what do the leaders say themselves? We asked Surfshark’s Team Leads to weigh in on what it takes to be a successful leader.


From the importance of honesty and humbleness to having patience and creativity – Surfshark peeps share their insights on what makes a great leader. We also asked them to share must-read books on the subject.


Get inspired by their wisdom and find the resources to become the leader you aspire to be.


CMO Regimantas Urbanas:

“More than anything else, a good leader is a dedicated, humble servant of their team, fulfilling their professional and emotional needs. A leader should be an enabler, a motivator, and a coach, who is highly empathic, able to “read the room” and notice details hidden between the lines. Ideally, a leader shall be capable of foreseeing and preventing potential issues and possible friction within the team early on.

A great leader manages with context, practical examples, and by asking the right questions instead of giving top-down orders. They should be able to match the right talent with the relevant opportunities, find new ventures to keep the team motivated and constantly evolving, and be an excellent networker and stakeholder manager.


At the same time, a great leader should excel in fast decision-making and take full responsibility but no credit because nothing would ever happen without their team in the first place.”

Book recommendations:

“Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell” – it’s a must-read for anyone working in a team, leading a team, or just trying to live a purposeful life and make everyone around them better, happier, and more effective

“The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons in Creative Leadership from the CEO of the Walt Disney Company” – a great story of Robert Iger following his one-of-a-kind career path: from an assistant role in the TV production studios to the CEO of the biggest media & entertainment conglomerates in the World — Walt Disney company: during his 15 years at Disney, he has managed to grow Disney’s market value 5x - from $48 billion to $257 billion. The book discloses some interesting behind-the-scenes details about these acquisitions and gives you some valuable leadership lessons.

“No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention” – while Netflix is getting some heat lately, I’m still fascinated by the company’s culture and would love to implement the majority of its principles in my team: build a team of talented people who are constantly developing by learning from each other. Establish a strong culture of instant, actionable, and honest feedback. Start removing controls and the red tape from the processes once you trust your team 100% to boost innovation and foster an extreme sense of ownership. These are just a few takeaways, but the whole book is eye-opening and inspiring!


Content Team Lead Kristina Žiaukė:

“Patience, flexibility, creativity. To be a good leader, you have to learn to be patient with people. Everyone is different, so patience gives you time to properly explore each individual and find the right way to their heart.

Flexibility allows you to adapt your leadership style to each team member individually. I think it’s clear that because we’re so different, as a leader, you cannot have the same approach that fits all.

And finally, creativity is needed for problem-solving. It’s easy to apply the same solution to repetitive issues. However, those are rare, and a creative approach to a whole bouquet of diverse situations is a must.”

Book recommendations:

“Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity”

“The One Minute Manager - Kenneth Blanchard & Spenser Johnson” – this one is worth reading, but not to be taken seriously.

“On Writing Well by William Zinsser” – it doesn’t matter if you are a writer or not. Reducing clutter is a must for everyone.


Head of Design Gediminas Baltaduonis:

“To be a great leader is to embody the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness. While applicable to all professions, these qualities are especially crucial for those in leadership positions.

A leader who is honest and reliable, who consistently acts with integrity, will earn the trust of their team and inspire confidence in their colleagues. This trust is not only vital for the success of a team. It’s also essential for leaders, as it allows them to build strong and meaningful relationships with those they lead.

Ultimately, the traits that make a great leader are not necessarily unique to the role but rather are those that define a good person. Being a great leader may be similar to simply being a good person.Both require honesty, trustworthiness, and a commitment to doing what is right.”

Book recommendations:

“Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman” – to learn how to be a good person.

“The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You” – to learn what a good leader should do and how to do it.


Head of Infrastructure Martynas Sklizmantas:

“As a team lead, I try to take a “no surprises” approach and all the good and bad that comes with it. A person should not be surprised if they receive negative feedback. Also, they shouldn’t be surprised by a promotion. Yet again, I’m not always succeeding in this.”

Book recommendations:

Camille Fournier “The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change”

Will Larson “An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management”

Laszlo Bock “Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead”


Head of HR Goda Pakalnė:

“In my opinion, great leaders lead by example, not force. Therefore, if leaders expect their team members to be dedicated, diligent, and curious, they must first demonstrate these traits themselves.”

Book recommendation:

James Clear “Atomic Habits”


IT Operations Manager Sandra Jasevičiūtė:

“What does it take to be a good leader? Never settling for good enough.”

Book recommendations:

Jocko Willink & Leif Babin “Extreme Ownership”

Camille Fournier “The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change”


Head of Growth Dovydas G.:

“A leader must be able to show the light when everybody else is in darkness.”


Find your own way

There is no single, one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. It takes time, self-reflection, and willingness to take risks to develop the leadership style that works best for you. Embracing trial and error and learning from failures is an essential part of this journey.

Remember that leadership is not about being perfect. It's about being authentic and constantly striving to improve and make a positive impact. So, don't be afraid to experiment, make mistakes, and find your own path to effective leadership.


Also, want to learn more about Surshark and their job vacancies? We thought so, here you can do it easily.


Article originally was posted by Surshark here.

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