two sides of leadership

April 20, 2005

I found this statement from Inspire! What Great Leaders Do interesting:

When we ask leaders to define leadership, and then ask their employees the same question, the difference in their answers is astonishing. It is the difference between the elite and the street. Leaders will tell you that the hallmarks of great leadership include having a clear vision, defining strategic goals, being decisive, winning in the marketplace, dominating the competition, hiring brilliant people, and motivating them. Ask their followers the same question, and hardly any of the leaders’ criteria will be included. Instead, they will tell you that they want the leaders to be great mentors and teachers, to be fair and respectful of people and the planet, to act with integrity, and to practice high standards of values, to be good listeners, to show compassion, and to communicate well.

This is worth noting for anyone in leadership. Neither of these definitions needs to be mutually exclusive. By no means should we diminish the importance of having a clear direction and using some form of goal setting and benchmarks to see how well we are accomplishing moving toward it.

However, the second half needs to be remembered as well. Those being led have to know experience and understand that they are a valuable part of what is happening in the process.

Without the clear direction provided by the leadership, even the best cared for followers will soon be disillusioned by the lack of direction. At the same time, the best leadership, without concern for those being led, will soon not being leading anyone at all.

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