Leadership and work team effectiveness are core to my research. In 30-plus years of practice, I’ve seen many examples of extraordinary leadership. But, I’ve also seen the precision of the terms “leader” and ” leadership” dangerously erode and socialization regarding leadership become increasingly superficial. We each have a responsibility to reverse this.
There are four dimensions I’ve witnessed in extraordinary leaders:
First, leadership is about worthy goals and values. Through worthy goals and core civil values, we advance the community and the world, hence, humanity. “Worthy” is not about the leader’s power, wealth or personal well being. Two types of people have a responsibility for worthy goals and core values: (1) people in high positions of authority who have the power to influence and allocate resources; and, (2) everyone else on the planet. Those in high authority have the easiest opportunity to advance humanity, so it becomes enormously costly when they get distracted by personal greed. Fundamentally, leadership occurs through association with worthy goals and core values, creating shared visions of possibilities, and influencing people to join in these achievements, with such effectiveness that they willingly come to engage worthy aims, day after day, until they succeed.
Second, leadership is about removing obstacles others encounter to achieve a worthy mutual purpose. The most effective leaders I observe concern themselves with removing every conceivable obstacle from the path and progress of each collaborator. Examples? Providing clear accountability, feedback, rewards, tools, training, resources, time, encouragement and respect; while removing debilitating fear and anxiety.
Third, leadership is about the people who engage the worthy goals with core values. The best leaders make extraordinary efforts to know, understand, appreciate, and respect each person on the team. The last thing such leaders would rationalize is layoffs to groom the income statement or to pay bonuses. People are the priority, and influencing people to stand to their full height is a principle.
Fourth, leadership is about maximizing the performance capacity of people. The extraordinary leaders I’ve observed are dedicated to growing collaboration, resilience, improvisation, and insight throughout the team.
What would you add? Do you disagree with any of these? I’d like to know.