Leadership – who do you want to lead?

27 09 2006

One measure of leadership is the caliber of people who choose to follow you. ~Dennis A. Peer

The semi-mystical mix of qualities, attitudes and behaviours that make or define a leader will provide plenty of material for business writers for years to come. The focus is often on what makes the person a leader or what actions define a leader.

How about looking at the situation from another point of view.

What kind of followers or team do you want to lead?

Are you seeking a group that can be easily manipulated and accept your commands without questioning your authority?

Do you want to lead a team of highly independent people who might question the goals and direction of the group at any time?

Do your followers believe you are the smartest, toughest or most courageous in the group?

What kind of people, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours would your “ideal” followers have, and why?

Determining the qualities of the group you desire to lead, can provide insights into your leadership style and goals. It will give some definition of what leadership qualities you expect to project to others, and what qualities or responses you expect to see reflected in your team, and their behaviours.

Not many of us will be leaders; and even those who are leaders must also be followers much of the time. This is the crucial role. Followers judge leaders. Only if the leaders pass that test do they have any impact. The potential followers, if their judgment is poor, have judged themselves. If the leader takes his or her followers to the goal, to great achievements, it is because the followers were capable of that kind of response.” –Garry Wills in Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership

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4 responses

31 10 2006
Business relationships Blog Digest - Leadership - who do you want to lead?

[…] Do you want to lead a team of highly independent people who might question the goals and direction of the group at any time … What do you think on this?Link to original article […]

9 12 2006
halfawake

I like the idea of reflecting on your own leadership style by considering the qualities of those who follow you (or those who you would have follow you). If you are forced to manage a person or group that doesn’t fit into your preferred “follower style”, is it better to try and adjust to them, or have them adjust to you? Or, like with most things, is it a comprimise?

11 12 2006
Lee

These are fundamental questions about leadership, organizations and motivating people. It would be unreasonable to assume that there is one leadership style for everyone. At the same time business and life situations require different leadership styles in order to be successful. My personal opinion is that the situation will determine what type of leader, and leadership style is most effective.

It’s productive to understand your own style, by reflecting upon the past. Who has followed you, what has been achieved, under what circumstances? This will provide insight into the type of leadership you are capable of, and successful at.

Re: people, compromises and adjusting leadership to fit the group. Again I would insist that the situation requires different styles. In a life/death situation, where the coordinated and precise actions of each member are critical to team and mission success, there is no room for compromising, the leadership must be dynamic, strict, focused and demand excellence and adherence to the rules.

If the situations demands innovation, creativity and free decision-making, then a leadership style that promotes and encourages creative participation, challenging the rules and the status quo would be more appropriate.

A quick look at current military, political or business leaders shows that not all successful leaders are successful in all their posts. Generals do not make the best politicians, and a successful turn-around in one industry, does not insure success in an different industry or organization. Upon closer inspection, you will find the leaders applying their leadership skills equally to the challenges, but the people and circumstances are different.

Perhaps we must look to the past in order to determine the best path for the future.

22 08 2010
Aaron

That sounds like good advice… I have a question. What about someone who is interested in becoming a leader…or being promoted? What can they do?

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