by Tim Connor
According to James MacGregor Burns, who authored the Nobel prize-winning book Leadership, there are at least 130 current definitions of leadership; while Warren Bemis and Burt Nanus, in their book Leaders, claim there are at least 340. Here are a few:
We have conceived of leadership…as the tapping of existence and potential motive and power basis of followers by leaders, for the purpose of achieving an intended change…
Though leadership may be hard to define, the one characteristic common to all leaders is their ability to make things happen…
Leadership can be defined as the will to control events, the understanding to chart a course and the power to get a job done, cooperatively using the skill and abilities of other people…
Leadership is the ability to get men and women to do what they don’t want to do and like it…
Leadership appears to be the art of getting others to want to do something you are convinced should be done…
Here are the most frequently mentioned leadership traits: (not in any order)
• Courage • Optimism • Sense of duty • Vision for the future - self and others
• Unbending character • Strong faith • Integrity • Purpose • Compassion
• Realism • Action • Work ethic • Spirituality • Competence • Charisma
• Effort • Service to others • Self-discipline • Moral excellence • Ability to handle power, success and failure • Influence • Sense of humor • Charity
• Humility • A learning attitude • Endurance • A builder of people and Enterprise • Respect for others, life and principles • Personality • People skills • Handling uncertainty • An ability to control emotions • Positive change agent • Ability to foster trust • Making difficult decisions.
I would doubt you would find them all in any single person. So the questions for consideration are:
Which ones are absolutely required in every leader?
Which ones would be nice to have, but are not vital for effective leadership?
Which ones turn up the least in the average good leader?
Which single trait is critical if none others are present?
It is unfortunate that many managers today fail to understand the role that leadership plays in the execution of their roles and responsibilities. Over the years I have read over 300 definitions of leadership. There are hundreds of books available on leadership and numerous seminars are held each year professing to teach people how to lead. And yet, many managers fail to grasp the importance of this critical attitude. (I have deliberately chosen here to call leadership an attitude rather than a skill.).
While I'm writing this for a manufactured and modular housing audience, I could just as easily address this to most any profession or group. So the comments that follow below are not 'tags' on any person or firm, these are truths that need to be understood – and if the shoe fits – then take the positive steps to do something about it.
I would like to wrap this up with what leadership isn’t or what I call the eight biggest leadership myths. If you are operating with any of these as your philosophy or fundamental approach to leadership you might want to take another look at how you are leading or think you are leading. If you are not guilty of embracing any of the eight, congratulations, you are obviously well ahead of your management peers. Here are the eight.
1. Position or title does not equate to leadership. Just because you may be the CEO, President or a department head does not mean you have leadership attitudes or ability. There are a lot of people running organizations today whom I would not classify as good or even acceptable leaders.
2. Tenure or longevity does not equate to effective leadership capabilities. Just because you may have been with your organization for over thirty years does not mean you are an effective leader. Any success you might have had could have been timing, luck, pure effort, will or any combination of these or other factors.
3. You have to be willing to do any task that any of your employees are asked to do. Sure if the floor is dirty and the Janitor is sick and not at work someone needs to sweep the floor - but is that really your responsibility – to show your employees that you are not above this task. Your employees want a leader they can respect and trust, not a back-up for the janitorial staff.
4. Leadership is an endowment or an education process. Leadership trust, respect and confidence are earned and not a set of mastered skill sets.
5. You can study your way to effective leadership. You can read all of the books on leadership and unless you are willing to let go of some of your beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, opinions or paradigms you can have all of the leadership knowledge in the world and still fail as a leader. Just look around you! This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t study leadership but it does mean that study is not enough, it takes wisdom, understanding and execution.
6. You don't have to be a senior citizen with gray hair to be an effective leader. I know many executives who are still in their twenties and are model leaders.
7. To be a leader you have to be in charge of something or someone. Leadership is not position. You can be the receptionist and have a leadership attitude about your roles and responsibilities. You can be in sales and have a leadership mindset about your tasks.
8. To lead you have to have followers. Leadership does not imply that you have to be in front of a group. If you are the only person working in a department you can still demonstrate leadership attitudes. ##
(Editor's Note: Tim Connor is a member of MHSpeakerTrainer.org. Check him out and consider Tim or others for your next association or corporate event).
(Editor's Note: Tim Connor is a member of MHSpeakerTrainer.org)