The Secrets of the Gods? (leadership isn’t one of them)

I always thought if I read and became the master of all the tenants of leadership, I would be a good leader of an organization.  Sounds reasonable to me right?  Maybe,….  not.

I had an awakening a short while ago and started to understand something about leadership. I came to the realization that a great organization is not guided by a good leader, as much as it is by the culture that is “curated” by the leader.  I know it has been written in every book, blog and billboard that culture eat’s strategy for breakfast. However, what about all those leadership skills and the library of books, presentations I’ve listened to that tells me how to be?  Well, that’s the focus for me a short while back.

A good leader must be proficient in all the ways of leadership; Drucker, Bennis, Collins, Maxwell, etc.. but the reality is they aren’t telling us anything new. Leadership philosophy goes back to the beginning of time and is really reflected in Greek Mythology with Prometheus, father of mankind, who was hated by Zeus because of Prometheus’s foresight. There are many examples if you accurately define “leadership”.  Rallying troops, building a community, spearheading a project with a groundswell of followers and on and on.

What is leadership? “The action of leading a group of people or organization”?
the position or function of a leader,  a person who guides or directs a group: He managed
to maintain his leadership of the party despite heavy opposition. Synonyms:
 administration,management, directorship, control, governorship,stewardship, hegemony.
ability to lead: As early as sixth grade she displayed remarkable leadership potential.
Synonyms: authoritativeness, influence,command, effectiveness; sway, clout.
The definition of leadership is best defined by his followers (me and probably some butterfly sage)

I get it, and so do you, but it’s not that easy to figure out why some “leaders” are more successful than others. Some have a style that is conducive to a product or process that may not work in a different organization trying the same approach. You still need to be very familiar with and proficient in the leadership styles and doctrines because they all come into play for great leaders. Leadership will emerge in every organization, unfortunately it will emerge in the presence of the organizational leader (so anointed) and rise to undermine or redirect the flow to their vision if they are not lead as well.  This means you will need to bring many leadership skills to bear in the crusade to building an organization that will embrace a direction.  All of the leadership skills that are documented can be learned and practiced, but until you can orchestrate them all in a symphony that is worth listening to, they are just what to “do” rather than how to “be”.  (Those who have read this blog before know the “how to be rather than how to do” mantra.)

How is this accomplished?

  1. Great leaders have passion. Enthusiasm must show, and BS will be seen from a mile away.
  2. Great leaders have vision. You must be able to explicitly see the goal.
  3. Great leaders are good story tellers. Communicating the vision must be engaging and rememberable. (read up on storytelling as a leadership skill)
  4. Great leaders propagate the species. Teach leadership, grow leaders in your organization, and plant the seeds of your vision as you do.  (this is the big secret)

All this to say, It’s about creating a culture that embraces your philosophies and insights and takes them in a common direction. A great leader can be obscure and really unknown  if he/she has the ability to plant the seeds of a vision with the leaders that will naturally emerge in an organization. Build the culture with empowering the right people, drafting the right policies, and being cognizant of the environment that will naturally impact both. The most valuable leadership skill of all, is taking care of the human processes.


9 thoughts on “The Secrets of the Gods? (leadership isn’t one of them)

  1. Culture is a reflection of leadership that is a given! It is important to understand that because when the clock strikes five who is still there, and why are they? Leadership like communication filters down through the layers and when it becomes stagnated and clogged an overflow occurs, and in the business world that is communication helter skelter. When one loses control of communication one loses control of an organization. I agree leadership books are full of great sounding ideas but what makes the difference is being able to put the book down listen to the patient and realize what the problem really is and that is a true practitioner. If the culture is not changing the right direction put the book down and listen.

  2. First we must teach people how to supervise. Once that lesson has been absorbed, we can then guide them towards leadership. This is the most important training for up and coming chiefs.
    Mentoring, good examples continuity planning will make this possible.
    Thanks for the timely comment.

  3. Couldn’t help but adding Gordon Graham’s thoughts on reducing organizational risk. I’ve always believed that a great leader “exudes” integrity which includes keeping their promises. I go back to your comment that great leaders care for their organization’s culture, they are its curators. They uphold the “rule of law” throughout the “land”, be that “land” a nation, company or family.

    The rule of law requires the government to exercise its power in accordance with well-established and clearly written rules, regulations, and legal principles. No man or woman is above or beyond the laws. Which brings me to Graham’s tenets: hire good people; have good policies; provide good training; have GREAT Supervision; and maintain good discipline. Substitute “law” for “policies” and-voila!—you have the rule of law for an organization.

    For a leader to be a great leader, above all they have to maintain the rule of law across the land. Here’s how it looks:

    Laws = Policies, procedures, and Standard Operating Guidelines

    Educated Populace = Entry-level and incumbent training so that everyone knows the laws.

    Law Enforcement = Like good law enforcement officers, good supervisors (1) know the law “inside and out”, (2) don’t ignore infractions, and (3) apply the law to everyone.

    Order = Like the judicial system, which tries and punishes the offenders, good organizations have a fair and impartial system of “justice” that ensures due process when individuals have been cited for infractions of the organizations “laws”

  4. Great correlation Bob. I view these as the “human processes” that must be in place for an organization to be healthy. One addition would be the acknowledgment or reward system for recognizing good behavior. Thanks for the post..

  5. Pingback: 4 Leadership Styles to Master « The Intuitive Group, Inc. on Personal Growth & Leadership

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