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Do, Be, Do, Be, Do

In the September issue of Catalyst magazine, Ed Hess, adjunct professor of management at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, offers a column in which he explains what leaders “actually do.”

While leadership theory draws on economics, psychology, sociology, ethics, philosophy, and religion, Hess boils leadership down to doing and acting. Leaders need:

  • The Right Attitude Leaders who lead for the wrong reasons may be less open, less honest, and less trustworthy than leaders who lead for the right reasons. One should want to lead because the expectation is that you will act in others’ best interests so as to make a meaningful contribution to the achievement of your organization.
  • Sensitization to Their Impact Being a leader is like being on stage all the time. Leaders understand that followers look for cues, meaning, and they evaluate them for consistency, reliability, and trustworthiness.
  • Leaders Manage Themselves Being a leader takes preparation every day. You have to work at leading. Good leaders focus daily on key objectives and values and on what people, teams, or functions need the leader’s input.

One phrase in the column struck me: “Many leaders get promoted to leadership positions because of outstanding past performance. Many are not prepared to lead.”

In fact, it reminded me of a program at FedEx that encourages future leaders to ask, “Is Management for Me?” Hess has his three, but FedEx applies nine criteria to identify potential leaders. How do you think they relate?

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