He was a teacher. He taught middle school English.
He was a boarding master. He supervised boarding house residents.
He was a sports master. He supported the coach and the players.
But he was much more than the sum of those parts.
He was no ordinary teacher.
He was a leader.
He mentored and molded youth who would become leaders themselves.
Recently I was at my old high school to pay my respects at the funeral of an old school teacher of mine. He spent over 40 years of his life at the same institution. Even after retirement he continued to serve the school on a voluntary basis. He participated in every school function until his demise.
All those present were reminiscing of his contribution to their lives; not only the academic aspect which was considerable, but most of us were narrating anecdotes of how this teacher influenced us in varied ways.
By his exemplary conduct, acts of kindness and compassion, humility, generosity, faithfulness and loyalty he inspired and molded several generations of young men.
We are better people by having come into contact with his personality and lifestyle.
Do we see teachers in the present generation who are similar leaders?
Education is not only about imparting knowledge and skills to students; it is also about helping them find their way in the world. It is also about imparting values and morals. Education is also about forming leaders. Education is about helping today’s youth become tomorrow’s leaders.
SO here’s a word to teachers. While teaching your students, may you also inspire them by your conduct and example.
Be a teacher? Yes, and also be a leader.
A Leader sees the bigger picture
- True leaders see a world bigger than themselves; they see the bigger picture.
- A leader who sees the bigger picture is able to inspire and motivate others as well.
- Such a leader will see challenges and opportunities everywhere.
- Such a leader will be able to create an impact on the world and others as well.
- Would-be leaders who have a narrow vision will be limited in the influence and impact.
Challenge : Train yourself to see the bigger picture.
A leader is someone who is unselfish
The world is a rat-race and everyone is on the lookout for themselves only. Life is all about self-improvement, self-preservation, achieving your destiny, becoming a millionaire before age 40 and more such attitudes which cause people to disregard others. People are inherently selfish.
- A true leader on the other hand would not only develop his or her life and career but would be equally if not more involved in helping others develop and succeed.
- All the famous leaders we respect are those who inspired and helped others in various ways, sometimes even sacrificing their own personal ambitions in the search for the common goal.
- The challenge for a would-be leader is to learn to see others as people with potential and dignity and be able to devote energy and effort to help them succeed.
Challenge : Don’t be a selfish Leader. Be willing to help others succeed
No Common Identity or clear focus
People have become used to working independently and view collaboration as a nuisance. Staff may not feel mutually accountable to one another for the team’s objectives. There may be a lack of commitment and effort, conflict between team goals and members’ personal goals, or poor collaboration. As a result the team doesn’t really know how to function. The team has lost focus on results or members have never been clear of their goals in the first place. Without a clear focus, team members frequently react to events in their immediate environment. They become distracted by other team members or simply respond to whatever issue lands in their lap. There’s no strategic team focus or energy to move forward.
This is a key issue. Some leaders are too busy concentrating on their own political or career agenda. Other leaders just don’t understand their role or possess good leadership skills. Leaders can fail teams by not defining a compelling vision for the team, not delegating, or not representing multiple constituencies. There is no understanding of or allowance for situational leadership utilizing the strengths of the team members. Effective leadership is critical to help the team succeed. Without it, team members will resort to their own methods. Some will run as far and fast as they can to prove themselves, pushing boundaries and taking on too much risk. Others will sit idle for as long as they can, performing as little as possible, yet complaining about how much work needs to get done. Another aspect is Inflexible Decision-making. Team members may be rigidly adhering to their positions during decision making to preserve the status quo for selfish reasons or refusing to introduce and work with new information and new ideas.
Lack of Innovation and creativity
The team is unable to generate fresh ideas and perspectives and or convert unexpected setbacks into opportunities. Teams end up doing the same thing while expecting differing results – the definition of insanity! The team is unwilling or unable to consider alternative ideas or approaches. There is a lack of critical thinking or debate over ideas. There is a false emphasis on team agreement and unity without real effectiveness. The team is stuck in practices that may have been established years ago. They’ve gotten lazy or stopped trying new approaches. New team members may be frustrated by the apparent lack of openness to new ideas or ways of operating. Experienced team members defend the way things have always been done. The most effective teams can maintain best practices while adapting to new environments or organizational changes.
This is an area with great potential for disruption of effective teams. There is no effective communication system in place or the systems are outmoded, irrelevant and not modified to face situational reality. Other reasons for poor communication can be unresolved conflicts. Team members refuse to talk with or listen to each other, or may interrupt or talk over one another. There may be consistent silence from some members during meetings, allusions to problems but failure to formally address them, or false consensus (everyone nods in agreement without truly agreeing). Poor communication can also result in a lack of participation or involvement. There may be poor attendance at team meetings or low energy during meetings.
Team building is the magic phrase when it comes to corporate training. But is it producing real results?
Many organizations invest time and money for events to help team members bond together and function more effectively as a team; staff return from these outings with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement, yet results are hard to quantify and short term at best. Despite the best team building efforts, many organizations are still struggling to produce the required results.
One main reason for this apparent mismatch between expected and actual outcomes is that team building isn’t directly linked to business results. It is true that the team enjoyed the motivational feel good exercises. But although the team learned about each other’s behavioral styles, motivational profiles, individual strengths and weaknesses etc, they have failed to connect their learning and experience to desired business outcomes.
Another reason for the lack of a lasting outcome is there is no continuity beyond a one-time event. A successful team building process should be approached strategically, not as a one-time event with unrealistic expectations. It should create tangible experiences that modify behavior and result in actionable ideas to help the team and organization achieve their goals. Continued experiences, learning, reflection, integration and reinforcement are critical.
What is leadership? – Searching for a definition (Part 4)
Did not read part 1? Here is it : What is leadership? – Searching for a definition (Part 3)
Let’s look at some more quotations about leadership:[su_quote cite=”Leroy Eimes, author and leadership expert”]A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see and who sees before others see.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Rosalynn Carter, former US first lady”]A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”General Colin Powell, US Army”]Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Former US President John Quincy Adams”]If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft”]As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Jack Welch, former GE chairman and CEO”]Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”U.S. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf”]Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”President Theodore Roosevelt”]People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Warren G. Bennis, founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California”]Leadership is the capacity to transform vision into reality.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Lao Tsu, Chinese philosopher”]To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves![/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Walter Lippmann, writer, reporter and political commentator”]The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger”]The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”General George S. Patton, US Army”]Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker”]The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Former US President Harry Truman”]In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple”]Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Benjamin Hooks, retired director of the NAACP”]If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Sam Rayburn, former speaker of the US House of Representatives”]You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”US President Dwight D. Eisenhower”]You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership.[/su_quote]
In conclusion, I am struck by the emphasis on people: Leadership involves people – other people. So leadership is not only about the person who leads, but it is also about the people who are being led.
Next, let us look at arriving at a working definition of leadership and look at its implications.
What is leadership? – Searching for a definition (Part 3)
Did not read part 2? Here is it : What is leadership? – Searching for a definition (Part 2)[su_quote cite=”Phil Blair, president, Manpower Staffing Services”]Leadership requires harnessing the energy and efforts of a group of individuals so that their outlook is advanced from an unremarkable Point A to a very desirable Point B — from bad to good, slow to fast, red to black. During that process, leadership manifests in projecting your expertise in a way that gains the confidence of others. Ultimately, leadership becomes about trust — when that confidence inspires them to align their vision and level of commitment for the betterment of the company.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Kendra Coleman, consultant, Sheppard Moscow”]For me, leadership is an act — a decision to take a stand, or step, in order to encourage, inspire or motivate others to move with you. What’s more, the most effective leaders do not rely on their title, or positional power, to lead. Rather, their ability to use their own personal power combined with their use of strategic influence are what make them effective.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Jonas Falk, CEO, OrganicLife”]Leadership is the ability to take an average team of individuals and transform them into superstars. The best leader is the one who inspires his workers to achieve greatness each and every day.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Robert Preziosi, professor and former chairman of management, Nova Southeastern University’s Huizenga School of Business”]Leadership is actions committed by a person or group that produce an output or result. It simply helps people to get things done. It is not based on position in a hierarchy.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”David Casullo, president, Bates Communications”]Leadership is the collective action of everyone you influence. Your behavior — your actions and your words — determines how you influence. Our job as leaders is to energize whatever marshals action within others.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Josh Kuehler, president, Internal Consistency”]Leadership is the ability to inspire motivation in others to move toward a desirable vision. While management is focused on tasks, leadership is focused on the person. All in all, the best leadership drives change and long-lasting motivation.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=”Bob Mason, founder, RLM Planning and Leadership”]Leadership is simply causing other people to do what the leaders want. Good leadership, whether formal or informal, is helping other people rise to their full potential while accomplishing the mission and goals of the organization. All members of an organization who are responsible for the work of others have the potential to be good leaders, if properly developed.[/su_quote] [su_quote cite=” Philip Gafka, founder, LEAP Associates”]Leadership is employing your skills and knowledge, leveraged by your attitude to get the results you desire.[/su_quote] Join me on a journey as we explore leadership, various theories about leadership, leadership styles, and practical applications of leadership in the 21st Century.