Leaders - Great And Not So Great
Posted on 1 Oct 2018
Author: Steve Vail
There are many factors associated with great leaders. Some of the more crucial ones are:
- Great leaders communicate honestly
- They know and take care of their people.
- They are loyal to their superiors as well as to their subordinates.
- People choose to follow great leaders, whether they have been assigned a position and/or title or not.
- Respect and loyalty is freely and enthusiastically given to great leaders.
- Great leaders lead from the front.
In turn, there are many factors associated with "not so great" or poor leaders as well. Some of the more blatant are:
- Poor leaders believe that the end justifies the means, and if that means dishonest communication, then so be it.
- They utilize manipulation as a means to get subordinates to do something they wouldn't do themselves.
- They utilize intimidation as a primary means of motivation
- Few choose to follow this leader. Most subordinates follow poor leaders via assignment only.
- They show respect and loyalty only as a means of manipulation toward superiors and subordinates alike.
- Poor leaders choose to lead from the rear as much as they possibly can.
Honesty is the best policy
Toss manipulation out the door because nothing about it is honest. Great leaders plan their work and work their plan, which includes honestly keeping their subordinates informed. They delegate tasks and responsibilities to intermediate leadership and allow them the freedom and opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Great leaders are also great communicators that optimize the strengths of each team member. They encourage their subordinates to reach out beyond so-called limitations. They are not afraid or ashamed of showing their vulnerabilities. To the contrary, they utilize them to teach valuable lessons and forge a strong sense of comradery. In turn loyalty and enthusiasm to follow this leader's directions grows as the team realizes one highly successful accomplished goal after another. Respect, civility, and team cohesion are the hallmarks of this leader's team. Attrition within this leader's purview is low, and team members enthusiastically choose to follow this leader whether he has a title and/or position or not.
The Manipulative and Dishonest Leader
"That guy is such a great leader, he could convince his followers to jump off a cliff and they would do so gladly." Frequently I have heard statements similar to this one used to describe someone's leadership ability. In my opinion, however, this statement and statements like it describe someone that has mastered the art of manipulation, not leadership. In the short run, they appear to really get the job done, and those they lead are usually enthusiastic - at first. However, once they learn of how they have been manipulated, essentially tricked and lied to, loyalty goes right out the window, along with effective team planning and the optimal accomplishment of goals, both long and short term. Tyranny, hazing, oppression, and micro-management become the new norm. Animosity within the team will take root and eventually grow to the point of no return. At which time, team cohesion and civility will become a distant memory - the primary goal will become one of just simply making it through the day. Attrition is usually very high within the organization that employees and promotes a leader of this type. Very few choose to stay within the environment that surrounds this so-called leader.
Leading From the Front vs. Leading From Rear
What is meant by the phrases "Lead from the front" and "Lead from the rear?" There is a wide variety of answers and opinions concerning this question. So in an effort to avoid ambiguity and confusion, I'll define the parameters according to my understanding before moving on. Leading from the front refers to a leader that takes an active role in the successful accomplishment of tasks assigned to their team. In other words, if the task is digging a ditch, this leader will frequently be on sight ensuring the task is implemented and carried out correctly, and at times will even partake in some of the diggings. Leading from the rear, on the other hand, refers to a leader that is rarely seen on sight, and frequently only when it's time to receive credit and accolades for a job well done.
Advantages of Leading from the Front
Just a few of the more obvious advantages of leading from the front:
- strong inner-personal relationships with subordinates
- loyalty and dedication from both superiors and subordinates
- a strong sense of comradery
- shared experiences
Some of the possible pitfalls associated with leading from the front:
- becoming overwhelmed
- becoming one of the guys - over familiarity
Advantages Associated with Leading from the Behind
From my point of view, the only advantages I can see associated with leading from behind benefit the leader only, and frequently at the detriment and demoralization of the team, they are supposed to be leading. This leader uses ambiguity as a means of self-preservation so that if things go wrong, they can claim that their team missed the "implied tasks" or were just too inept to understand the instructions. If the job is not well done and only criticism follows, this leader is able to avoid the fallout via plausible deniability. Frequently this leader will join the critics in berating their own crew. Leaders of this sort frequently make comments, un-jokingly, like, "I'm a great leader. I just need followers that can follow instructions." There is no upside to being placed under a leader that leads from behind. People do not choose to follow these leaders. They are only under their authority and purview via assignment, position, and/or title.
Great leaders are not born, they are trained, coached and mentored by other great leaders and leadership trainers that exemplify great leadership. The art of great leadership requires work, self control, and a dedication to serve all entities within the organization. It requires planning and a disciplined approach that entails delegation, follow through, positive reinforcement, motivation and sincerity.
I have stated many of my own opinions in this post, and consequently I would like to hear some of yours. So leave a comment below and let's discus it.
The artwork in this posts was generated via wordart.com