3.09.2005

Of What Leadership

Since the early days of my personal involvement in network marketing, the term "leadership" is bandied about almost carelessly. And yet, having witnessed the coronation of dozens of so-called and even self-proclaimed "leaders", I cannot help but wonder if the title of leader hasn't become so diluted that it is hardly a recognizable trait?

Does a title make a leader? Of course not. Most people recognize this and are certainly smart enough to realize that there are plenty of titled people without leadership skills. There is little more destructive than a caste system that promotes it's leaders. Leaders here are more often chosen on the basis of "who will play ball" rather than "who will inspire and set an example?" Effective organizations need more builders than 'brown-nosers'.

In addition to expressing the 'why' solution to any challenge, a leader should be able to share the 'how'. In reaching a point of understanding, the leader needs to be able to explain how each solution will affect each member of the participants. The leader must never lose touch with their origin; their roots, and never disregard the roots of others in the organization.

A leader should be a facilitator. Laying the foundation, paving the way, and acting as a sign post for all that choose to walk that road. Loyalty and mutual respect are the cornerstones in this process and the leaders must be the hallmark of these traits. You can say "follow me" all day long but unless you first live your commitment, you are not likely to keep the attention of those you may wish to lead.

I also believe that a true leader should be confident in themselves, absolutely; more importantly, they need an unshakeable confidence in those around them and consistently seek opportunities to involve them in arriving at solutions. A person in the leadership role may have the ultimate veto power, and will need to be able to exercise it tactfully, but this authority need not be advertised. The leader should seek to be able to say "WE have developed this solution" over using the word, "I".

Lastly, a leader should grasp their own limitations and admit their failures when they occur, which they undoubtedly will. Discard the conditional apology and contrived humility for both are readily apparent.

Of what value is leadership if one seeks domain over sheep? A leader that seeks to empower others, respect the tacit ownership role that ALL participants possess, will allow growth and development in the organization that will be nothing short of unstoppable.

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