The Leadership Dilemma

The Leadership Dilemma

There have been many books written about Leadership. All you have to do is scan the business section at your local bookstore and you will find an overabundance of leadership titles.

The Leadership Dilemma

A quick check of my own bookshelves reveals at least ten titles including: “Principal Centered- Leadership” by Covey, “Leading the Way” by Gandossy & Effron, “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes & Posner, “Monday Morning Leadership” by Cottrell and “The 5 Pillars of Leadership” by Meyer & Slechta. If fact, I did a quick search on amazon.com for leadersh ip books and over 59,000 results were returned.

It amazes me that with this amount of available wisdom, organizations and individuals continue to struggle and search for the magic leadership formula. My hypothesis is that there is no magic leadership formula. Leadership success comes from mastering a universal and venerable skill set that has been proven over time to lead to desired results.

So let’s focus on three leadership concepts that are most basic to my hypothesis. These are:

Vision is the ability to see where you are going and to work backward from that vision to create a plan to get there.

Authenticity is demonstrating behaviors that are genuine, reliable, trustworthy and respectful. These behaviors inspire and motivate people to move their organizations forward.

Results Achievement is the true determination of successful leadership. The general who lost the war, the coach who never won the big game or the CEO whose company failed, are never held out as examples of successful leadership. The key is to identify those characteristics of leadership that move the organization to the desired results.

So how can organizations and individuals develop the leadership skills needed to achieve desired results? You may be thinking that these skills cannot be learned. You may also be thinking that this is an over simplification. My point in breaking down leadership into these universal concepts is to emphasize that by focusing on proven leadership techniques, leaders can be most successful. If you are willing to put in a little time to understand and master these concepts, you can be a successful leader.

Alan Weiss, author of numerous books on leadership and consulting writes “…once In Search of Excellence became a hit over a quarter of a century ago, there followed a plethora of consultants, trainers, and preachers who espoused “management by wandering around” and “sticking to the knitting” as though these were mantras whose very intonation would improve operations. Today any momentary “guru’s” new book spawns a crowd of lemminglike consultants. I’m weary of both client and consultants who chant, like monks at vespers, “I want to go from good to great.”

Yes, there are other important leadership concepts beyond the three mentioned above. Successful leadership is about having strong planning and goal-setting skills. It is about being self-motivated and having the courage to act. It is about treating people with respect and inspiring them. Good leaders know how to collaborate and build teams. There are many more characteristics of good leaders and the essential ingredients are the straight forward skills that have been proven to lead to results. It is this venerable skill set (sans the faddish approach) that organizations must focus their development efforts upon.

My advice is to skip the leadership “du jour” when building your own skills or those of others within your organization. Focus on identifying the leadership skills that are “tried and true” and that have been proven be successful in the achievement of desired results. Most importantly, identify and develop the leadership skills that are essential for success within your organization.

By John Benson

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