Sunday, November 14, 2004

Two Kinds of Leaders

Henry Kissinger was asked what he had learned from the presidents he had worked with. Kissinger replied, 'Presidents don't do great things by dwelling on their limitations, but by focusing on their possibilities. Good leaders engage the world. Bad leaders entrap it, or try.”

I have written a great deal about Leadership over the years and in the last few days realised how people look at the term ‘Leader’ and automatically take it for granted that all leaders are good ones.
Not so.

Good leaders lead by example….are able to communicate their dreams and goals effectively and even more important than that, bring others on board with them through inspiration and good example. Bad leaders intimidate, instill fear in those who work for them, thereby leading with an iron fist. Both lead. The first example grow new good leaders along the way and the second, pretty much make sure no one measures up to them, not caring about succession plans or future of an organization. They just want to go down in a blaze of glory no matter what the consequences.

Leadership’ is big business these days. There are courses around it, books written about it….it’s the lingo used in almost every board room across the country. It’s very easy to talk the leadership talk, however it takes more than talk to attain the level of a true good leader. It is being open to the possibilities, realizing others might know more than you and working with them to create a strong vision. Politicians, heads of companies and organizations have the desire to lead, but are they taught how to in the true sense of the word? The debate continues re: “leaders are born, not made.” I believe leaders are born (well, one has to exist in order to do anything) AND are made. They also continue to grow as they learn and accumulate experience. It’s the poor leader who thinks he/she knows everything there is to know about anything. As the world continues to evolve, so do intelligent people. Through awareness and change come paradigm shifts that might be seismically altering to an individual and organization. Leaders continuously reinvent themselves…they live in advance, knowing whatever decisions they make right now will have an impact on how they invent their future.

Bad leaders get away with their actions because those who follow let them get away with it. Don’t let them!

Donna Karlin

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