Saturday, August 1, 2009

Leadership - No Recipe

I have been thinking about leadership alot lately. I have been reflecting on my previous leaders and thinking about what I admired and respected about each of them. I remember each leader for different reasons. There were those that encouraged and gave one lots of rope, others that had a bit of the fear factor going on. You would arrive at their office door feeling nervous. Those that you hung off every word and those that you didn't believe as they seldom walked the talk. I have a greater respect for my past leaders as I too pursue the leadership pathway.
I have been reflecting about all this as I plan a presentation for middle leaders interested in further pursuing leadership. I am wondering about famous global leaders, how I myself lead and really why would one want to lead. A question Lester Levy asked a couple of years ago at an international principals conference still resonates, he asked 'Why would I want to be led by you?' A question I continue to ponder and reflect on many months later.
I am fast coming to the conclusion that there is nothing more fulfilling than lighting fires in others and seeing individuals succeed and achieve. Leadership I believe is about influencing and motivating people to achieve an outcome. Keith of Genentech puts it more eloquently said "Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen."
This leads to the question What then are the qualities of leaders to make this happen?
I will post a leadership continuum in the next few days that attempts to help move leadership practice from good to great. I developed this with Kathryn Hodgson and it has since been critiqued by colleagues at Red Beach School. The reason for developing such a tool is to enable learning conversations about leadership, a framework for reflecting about ones own leadership and identify areas for improvement. At a recent leadership meeting we discussed our goal areas and what actions we had taken to move leadership forward. A healthy and honest discussion.

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