Leadership – a rare jewel?

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. 

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