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Leadership: Defined?

What is a great leader exactly? That is one of the questions consistently tossed about all over the world. I’ve read books upon books on leadership, write about leadership but is it defined in the true sense of the term or does a leader’s unique style define it along the way?

What is a great leader exactly? That is one of the questions consistently tossed about all over the world. I’ve read books upon books on leadership, write about leadership but is it defined in the true sense of the term or does a leader’s unique style define it along the way?

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If defining a leader was based on proficiency or criteria, would that align with the individuality of the organization or the people within it? Is it something one can be measured against now or after the fact? Think about it. How many people are considered great leaders the moment they walk into the position? They don’t. That is earned after they’ve achieved success.

A catch 22 perhaps?

Theodore Roosevelt said “The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

If you take that quote and take it to mean a person in a position of leadership (who else would be picking their people?) then does it mean someone that gives direction and then backs off?

A constant complaint from clients…..their work is checked and rechecked and half the time discarded. It’s demoralizing to them and deflates their desire to produce. Yet how many leaders do that?

Ralph Marston wrote “Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open. You’re able to benefit from the unique viewpoints of others, without being crippled by your own judgment.” By doing that, you not only empower those who work with/for you but grow and learn at the same time. Is that a better definition of leadership?

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Ask yourself this question….if you lost your title, position and power tomorrow, would others still support you and want to work with you? A difficult question to ask, but an important one at that. It’s a question many don’t want to be asked because they’re afraid of hearing the answer. In this day and age that question is translated into a 360°. You’re told in every which way whether or not staff, peers and superiors would follow your lead. But what is done with those 360s afterwards?

I know…many questions. Coaches are great at asking questions for clarification. And as there are many of you out there who are quick as a whip, have insight, opinions, ideas and perspectives I’d love to throw a few questions out at you..

1. How do you define a true leader?
2. Should there be a tool or assessment for a future leader to be measured against before taking on the position?
3. Should peer assessments be done on a regular basis to see if that leaders is measuring up?
4. In some organizations, staff is now choosing their leader. Does that ultimately make a difference in the success or an organization?

Looking forward to your three cents.

Donna Karlin • Executive and Political Shadow Coach™ • Ottawa, Canada • •www.abetterperspective.com

About the author

Donna Karlin CEC, Diplomate IABMCP and founder and principal of A Better Perspective® & The School of Shadow Coaching, has pioneered the specialized practice of Shadow Coaching® with global political, government, business and senior organizational leaders in the public and private sectors. Donna capitalizes on almost 30 years of experience in coaching, consulting and training to help clients and their organizations evolve into their level of excellence.

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