What Is Leadership Anyway?

Tim Connor
 


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What is leadership anyway?

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 350. 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…

    The world is changing at the speed of light. Everything is being touched by this accelerated pace of change. No person, entity, industry, profession, and no part of the world or any business can escape the relentless pull of the future into the present moment.

    Business leaders need to chart an effective course into the future even though they don’t have a clue what their organizations will look like tomorrow let alone next year. Many business leaders are mired down in philosophies, strategies and approaches that were the standards held years ago when the rules and the world was more predicable.

    The rules are changing – and the rules that are determining the rules are changing.

    We are living in a crazy, frenzied time in history. The roller coaster left the starting point several years ago and it is poised for yet another rapid decent - challenging what we know, believe, feel and have forecasted. The smooth ride of the past is nothing more than a distant memory for most of us. Never again will we know what is around the next corner or where or how the ride will end.

    How, then, can today’s executive, business owner and manager predict what their vision of what tomorrow will look like with any degree of accuracy? It’s anybody’s guess what the next several years will create, manifest, modify, re-define or even destroy. What you can do is: stay loose, flexible, positive and optimistic. What you want to avoid is: remaining stuck in yesterday’s paradigms, attitudes, philosophies and strategies.

    What are some of the specific things to avoid as we move like a bullet into the future? Believing that what worked last year or yesterday will work today or tomorrow. Thinking that what you thought about the future yesterday will come to pass. Status-quo thinking. Conventional wisdom or thinking. Using yesterday’s results as a benchmark for tomorrow. Refusing to think out of the box.

    I suggest you spend some time considering how all of this is impacting your ability to manage successfully?

    Let’s wrap this up with what I believe are eight of the most common leadership myths. By the way I have a new CD available called 8 Leadership Myths. If you want to order it give me a call. I guarantee it will help you better understand where your leadership skills are either effective or lacking.

    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.

    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 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. That 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.

    Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management, leadership and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; Soft Sell, That’s Life, Peace Of Mind, 81 Challenges Managers Face and Your First Year In Sales. He is also the CEO of Sales Clubs Of America. He can be reached at tim@timconnor.com , 704-895-1230 or visit his websites at http://www.timconnor.com or http://www.SalesClubsOfAmerica.com

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