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Sunday, October 29, 2006

The measure of leadership

This week I have been invited to help create / revamp a leadership training course for the company I work for. At first glance it was a simple task, but nailing down a definitive picture of leadership is somewhat elusive. What is the true measure of a leader and how do we define true leadership. Most of us can rattle off traits that we like or have seen in leaders we think are good. But the term a "good leader" is relative is it not? For example, some would say President Bush is a good leader. Or at least most everyone was saying that a few years ago. Now the fickle masses have decided that he is not. So, is he or is he not a good leader? Is good leadership dependent on circumstance or outside perspectives? Or is good leadership the same even when circumstance and opinion fail the individual? We tend to define leaders by traits. Traits that we think are desirable. However someone with good leader traits might display poor leadership, no? So the two are not necessarily connected, maybe correlated, but not connected. So, is good leadership that leadership which is good for the masses when the masses what it so. Or, does good leadership stay the course not matter what the outside circumstances maybe? Do you see my point about leadership being elusive?

I have lead trips that focused on leadership issues. And I know for a fact that some of the participants felt that I was a lousy leader and displayed lousy leadership until they saw the whole picture and then it was like, " oh I get it now." Leadership is a very dynamic and ever evolving process that is in constant state of assessment! To try and identify the course of leadership, one would have to take account for the courses beginning and desired end. Only then can one make a determination if the leadership was good or bad. Still, this determination will vary person to person. So how do we identify good leadership? By the outcome?

I would surmise that leadership is like the process of forming a pot on the potters wheel. The leader forms his leadership through a process which is developed over time and based on inspiration, passion, education and experience. The fruits of this process is brought to bear in the efforts of fulfilling the dreams and passions of those the leader serves. Some people will like the style of the pot and others wont. But the decision or judgement should come after the pot has been fired and glazed. it is only then that we can really see the true effect that the master potter had on the clay.

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