Common Sense Leadership

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Whom Do You Serve?

Too often, would-be leaders forget their place. These self centered individuals ignore the interests of direct reports, members, or customers.  Don't feel sorry for them - help them. They're confused, but it may not be a lost cause. With the right coaching and development, they will decide to behave as true leaders do, or they will show their colors and stay on the course they have unfortunately charted for themselves.

There are many leadership styles. The most common and well known being:
  • Autocratic leadership
  • Bureaucratic leadership
  • Charismatic leadership
  • Democratic leadership or Participative leadership
  • Servant leadership
  • Transactional leadership
  • Transformational leadership
Each offers benefit for given circumstances when applied correctly. Interestingly, all styles have an element of service.  

Effective leadership is greatly achieved when serving others. Service is a leadership trait that rarely gets discussed in the open because, as leaders know, it is an automatic quality and characteristic they demonstrate routinely. When considering service as a leader, it can be broken down into common sense actions and can be brought to the surface by asking a series of basic questions. Here are a few examples.

Does the leader:
  • understand what's important professionally to those within their area of responsibility?
  • understand what's important personally to those within their area of responsibility?
  • show sincere appreciation for those around them?
  • really know what the people around them do for a living everyday?
  • offer help, guidance, and support to those with whom they come in contact with?

The way a leader acts tells everyone what is most important to them. Serving others or serving themselves.  

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Defining Leadership

What is Leadership? This seems like a question that would be so easy to answer yet, people struggle with a response. Of course you will hear the automatic replies. Things like, "that describes the person in charge" or "he or she is the person that runs things". Herein lies the problem. Too often we associate leadership with the role or position and not with the make up of the person. By doing this we undermine the important function good leadership has in our society. How often are we influenced negatively by a person in a leadership position who possesses no true leadership characteristics or skills? I read a terrific book by Donald T. Phillips called Lincoln On Leadership (Warner Books). What has stayed with me is how Abraham Lincoln was described as a great leader. Not only because he was President of the United States, but equally as important, because he was compassionate, patient, knew when to put his foot down, was consistent, persistent, innovative, and persuasive. Finally, he is described in the book as having "an unshakable commitment to the rights of the individual." When I evaluate 'leaders' I like to hold them up to characteristics like the ones mentioned here and others and see how they rate. I have found too few great leaders so far.

The opportunities are there for the taking...leaders, it's time to take your place in the world!