We seem to be living in a society where winning at any cost is hailed by many, if not revered, as leadership. That type of ego-driven dominance is certainly a form of leadership, but it extracts a high emotional and intellectual cost from the people being led. That kind of leadership is disempowering and oblivious; unfeeling and detached. It lays waste to the idea that everyone has something valuable to contribute as stakeholders of the leader’s influence community.
So much has been written about it, it’s hard to fathom adding anything new on the topic But with many public examples of poor leadership around us, I am forced to remind myself that we do know what real leadership looks like. Think Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Golda Meir, Martin Luther King, Pope Francis, Lyndon Johnson and Colin Powell, to name just a few. What made them different (and more effective)? What did they have in common?
These were people who knew how to:
- bring out the best in people
- calm us in the face of chaos and shake us out of our comfort when we’re complacent
- accept responsibility for things when they go wrong and share credit when things go right
- build consensus versus rely on mandates or dictates
- value humility and consideration
Many of us aspire to be great leaders. If you’re like me, you work constantly to improve your leadership. Stay true to the principles that the greatest leaders have demonstrated and you’ll achieve success, influence and respect. Don’t be distracted by the narcissistic braying of leadership pretenders all over the world…those people leave the broken glass that real leaders come in and clean up.