In my relatively short professional and academic career I have seen first hand the importance of good leadership. Like most of us, I’ve experienced working for/with fantastic leaders and I’ve also experienced the drudgery of working for (not with) poor leaders. There are lots of good books on leadership – interestingly, I suspect that the good leaders read none of them, they are, as you say, natural born leaders. What is good leadership:
- not following – obviously being a leader means that you can’t be a follower. What are you doing that is innovative, pushing the boundaries, and making tomorrow’s new product/service?
- you have disciples – not drones, but disciples. People that understand your vision, believe in your vision, and trust you.
- you have vision – this goes with the first point. As a leader you must have an idea of where you are headed. Endless committees, delaying decisions, waiting to see what the market place looks like are not leadership skills.
- you have courage – leading is risky. If you don’t like risk or can’t handle the potential outcome, don’t take the position. Warming a leaders chair does not make you a leader – at best you’re a caretaker, at worst you’ve tied up a chair that is critical to the institution.
I have not always agreed with a great leader (and in a few cases there have been some heated debates), but when all is said and done, I would still follow them into battle. To the great leaders that have shown me the light, thank you. To the weak leaders that are still warming seats, move on.