Thinking About Leadership

Someone recently commented that the definition of Leadership is a murky place, I smiled as I thought about what she’d just said, and she’s right it is a murky place. Today there are thousands of coaches and agencies selling their expertise in Leadership and becoming a Leader, yet the field is more like a witch’s bubbling cauldron than a neatly defined set of steps one can follow to achieve success.

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It’s easy to get bogged down when thinking about leadership much like driving your car on a dirt road after a particularly hard rain storm. There may be as many theories about leadership as rain drops in that sudden rain storm, Keeping the two tips below in mind as you work to decide which theory of leadership will produce the best results for your organization will give you an edge over your competition.

1. Keep It Simple: Adopt a plan that spells things our simply and clearly, overly complicated models will often fail to be implemented fully.

2. Be Consistent:  Choose a path you can follow and implement across all areas of your business with consistency.

And here’s a short video explanation of some classic leadership theories.

2 Responses to Thinking About Leadership

  1. Nice post Craig. Your post got me thinking more about leadership and managers ‘thinking’ they are leaders.

    Over the many years I have been in leadership roles I have all too often come across people that feel the need to point out to myself and others that they are leaders.

    They do it through a variety of ways – they actually refer to themselves in the 3rd person only as their title, they like to brag about the dollar amounts in their delegation of authority or they like to tell you that they don’t need your input – that they ’got it ‘cause I’m the leader’.

    Unless you have been involved in a 360 feedback on your management skills most of us don’t know what we don’t know. We tend to just keep doing what we have always done.

    My favorite quote of all time is from the Iron Lady herself – Margaret Thatcher who said “Power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, then you aren’t”. Its true isn’t it? Those that have to go round telling everyone that they have a title or some positional power clearly don’t display it. That other saying “actions speak louder than words” really impacts here. Your actions, what you say and then backed up with what you do, really should be all that is needed to show you are a leader within your organization.

    Many new leaders view managing as easy before they step up into the role. They only often see only the ‘people directing’ side of the management role. Being a manager or leaders is often varied and challenging due to mixed expectations, conflicting objectives, and conflicting needs from multiple stakeholders. The manager’s role is not one to accept for someone looking to “take it easy” on the job.

    There is definitely legitimate power that comes with your position within your organization. It exists because organizations find it advantageous to assign certain powers to you or your title so that you can do their jobs effectively. All managers have some degree of legitimate power. However, relying only on this is one of the biggest mistake any manager can make. These days it’s all about what is considered personal power or influencing skills.

    Mark Twain once said, “Nothing is more uncommon, than common sense.” Good management is an exercise in rational thinking, and can go a long way in helping new managers succeed. However, many of the concepts underlying management are not always intuitively obvious. Good management is based not only on our common sense but the needs and common sense of those around us. Great managers do not become successful overnight, they strive to apply common sense and continually expand their basis for common sense through their experience and the wisdom of others.

    This is one of the most enduring myths of management and one that gets a lot of new managers into trouble. Research and experience over many years and thousands of organizations tells us that more than half your employees will exert effort of around 60% or less of their capability. There are many reasons for this; however, the two major ones are a lack of clear expectations by the manager, and a poor feedback or performance management system. Without clarity and feedback, people will gradually perform less and less until their performance is only enough to “get by.” Your use of a variety management styles, approach to conflict, and the way you performance manage your team will dramatically impact your direct reports to exert more, or exert less effort. Learning how to do these things effectively will definitely impact the production of your team.

  2. Thanks Lexie for your wonderfully written comment. I especially like your Thacher quote, ego often becomes enamored with blowing it’s own horn…

    Your writing should be made into a pamphlet and become mandatory reading for all corporate boards, maybe then they might require a couple of classes in Listening Skills before anyone can be promoted.

    Thanks Again

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