Monday, July 22, 2013

Mantle of Leadership

I’ve been seeing a lot on leadership.  Search for it on Bing or Google and you get

  • Bing: 221,000,000 hits
  • Google: 444,000,000 hits

It’s a term bandied about since people formed groups.  No matter if you’re a hunter or a gatherer, someone has to be in charge - that’s the leader.  The interesting thing is watch who’s in charge and who the people check with.  They aren’t always the same. 

How do you start?

The first thing you need is a group with a goal.  And then you start looking for people, hopefully within the group, with those qualities which assist the group in reaching its goal. 

No matter what your goal originally was, one goal that arises like a phoenix from the ashes is the group’s continuation.  So what was a single goal soon splits into goals.   Each goal that is met must be swapped out for new goals.  Sometimes you have to change leaders too.

So far, David Letterman has not published a Top 10 leadership list (at least to my knowledge).  That hasn’t stopped people from making lists of attributes and trying to match them to people.  We want to assign degrees of leadership to ourselves and others.   

Sometimes we’ll attempt to wrap leadership up like it was some kind of package.  We hear about charismatic leaders, or natural leaders or God-given leadership.  I often hear about the last one used in an attempt to connect the spiritual world with this mortal coil.  It’s popular with kings and religions.

Organizations have evaluations in which they attempt to quantify the abilities of potential leaders.  A bad fitness report or yearly evaluation could sideline you.  The story at Goodyear Tire about leaders was there was a type of question they asked during the interview process.  The right answer during the pre-employment interview put you on the fast track.  Oh, you could fall off the fast track, but fail to answer the question properly and you could never climb on.  I understand it was the most tightly guarded secret in the company. 

I never believed that story but then I showed up for my interview in a polyester leisure suit.  I never got the question!

We have Leadership Councils, Leadership Leagues, and one of my favorites, the Fellowship of Leaders.  One has to wonder how they accomplish anything with so many leaders and presumably an insufficient number of followers. 

Schools and seminars teaching leadership have sprung up like mushrooms and publishers have denuded forests to print books and articles on leadership.  Leadership appears to be in great demand.

The best way to learn leadership is observe men and women you admire for leadership and copy those traits.  Sometimes the hardest part is deciding how to apply one set of behaviors to what appears to be different circumstances.  That may be the key talent of leadership.

The worst and best definition I’ve found is, “Leadership is what a leader does.”

At the CMRPC Bullseye Regional at the beginning of July, I was talking with one of the military shooters.  The polite opening question, especially if you’re had some previous conversations with competitor is, “How did you shoot today?”

I got a different answer than I expected.

“I didn’t do so well (I’m paraphrasing).  But it doesn’t matter.  I’m not a top shooter, but I’m in charge so I try to make sure the guys have what they need.  My scores don’t matter.”

Sounds like leadership to me.

Tactical content:  Pick your leaders with care.

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