As I ponder all that has happened in the past year, my head starts to spin! Not that I’m claiming to have been through things that others haven’t been through, just in awe of how it all came together. A few things come to mind for me in the category of leadership:
1. I’m amazed at how much I learned about good leadership after experiencing bad leadership. I recall a situation from a long time ago when I worked in a manufacturing plant… I had to deal with some one from another department on a regular basis who seemed to have no concept of good communication or problem solving skills. In trying to find a solution to the ongoing woes between myself and the other individual, I went to my boss to see if he had any insight on how to deal with the daily conflicts. To my surprise, he didn’t offer a great answer to that particular problem, but the wisdom he shared that day comes ringing back to me now:
“You can’t change how people treat you, but you can learn about what kind of leader you want to be and how you want to treat people when you’re in similar situations”.
Wow. I really can’t believe how those simple words have come true! While I don’t want to be perceived to be dwelling on the negative aspects of the year, I can truly say that I have learned the most about good leadership via bad leadership. I can honestly say that I feel well armed to deal with many things now because of what I have seen in the way of poor leadership.
2. Good leadership is practiced every day. Just like being healthy in your mind and body requires daily attention, so does good leadership. I firmly believe that good leadership doesn’t take days off… not to say that there isn’t “down time”, but truly good leadership leaves evidence on a daily basis… it becomes who you are, not merely what you do. I have had an incredible privilege of working around some amazing leadership in my current job! People that strive for excellence in all that they do, professionally and personally. I am blessed!
3. Good leadership is easy to follow. When a passionate leader lays out a map and a time-line, the followers have little opportunity to stray from it. The plan becomes the “thing” and the filter by which everything is judged. Any additions or subtractions can be quickly weighed by how they affect the plan… to me, this means that we are able to remove the emotional decisions without diminishing any of the passion of the project.
4. Good leadership thrives on good communication. In Seth Godin’s book, Tribes, he states,
“Great leaders create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate. They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow them.”
With poor communication comes mistakes, misunderstandings and loss of motivation. Good communication has great benefits: a clear understanding of the tasks, ongoing encouragement, and ultimately, high praise for achievements.
5. Good leadership is contagious! With good leadership calling the shots, I firmly believe that your organization will thrive at unthinkable levels internally… and will continue to attract the attention of others externally who want to learn how to improve their own organizations. Good leadership is also ready to dispense their wisdom for the betterment of anyone who asks.
I’m thankful to so many people who have poured so much into my life in the past year… you will find many of them listed in my blogroll and quoted in previous leadership posts… these are amazing people who realize that leadership is not a position, but a great responsibility… it’s who they are, not what they do. Thank you all!
What have you learned about leadership in 2008?