Friday, March 25, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Take Me to Your Leader

Within every workgroup, you have some staples: there’s the slacker, who can’t be counted on for anything except to show up when the job’s done, in an effort to soak up accolades…the willing but uninspired follower who’ll do whatever’s necessary, but has to be told what to do at every step…the constant critic, who knows how everything should be done, but isn’t crazy about assuming any real responsibilities because he’s already overcommitted to so many things requiring his brilliance.

And then there’s that mysterious, elusive character — the leader. Amid the flow of personalities and work, very few understand what it really means to be a leader.

Good leadership is often hard to define, but everyone knows when they’re working with a good leader just like they know when they’re operating in a leadership vacuum.

Some leaders are natural managers, which is the job of making sure processes are running efficiently and regularly improved.

Others are visionaries, less effective with day-to-day operations, but impressive innovators and new-thought leaders.

There are contradictions as well: take-charge personalities don’t always make the best leaders, and folks who made straight A’s in school often become better specialists than generals of men and women.

Some group circumstances thrive from servant-leaders, those low-key people who bring up the rear rather than charge from the front, because that’s how they gather insight on what has to be done, and how it can be sustainably done. Individuals may have influence but few leadership skills, just as certain leaders may have authority but fail miserably at behaving responsibly.

And, very often, people with robust leadership abilities do not collaborate well with other strong leaders like themselves. Queen bees have been known to fight to the death.

So what’s a plausible working definition of a leader?

Over the next couple blogs, I’ll be discussing this.

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