Good Leader---What Does it Take to Be One?

In the October 26th issue of The Washington Business Journal, Harvey Mackay, author of the best-selling, “Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive”, wrote about leadership. He said, “Leadership is a difficult skill to measure. But it is certainly easy to determine when leadership is not present.”
How true is that statement? Haven’t we all, at one time or another—experienced the absence of leadership in an organization? It is so much more difficult to accomplish goals or fulfill a mission without a strong and visionary leader.
Mackay quotes a study done by Santa Clara University and the Tom Peters Group/Learning Systems of more than 5200 senior managers who were asked what characteristics they admire most in a leader:
· “Honest”
· “Competent”
· “Forward-looking”
· “Inspiring”
· “Intelligent”
· “Fair-minded”
· “Broad-minded”
· “Courageous”
· “Straight-forward”
· “Imaginative”
Does anything on this list surprise you? Actually, much of what is on this list seems obvious but it surprises me that so many of these characteristics seem to be what we would expect of any good employee. As Mackay points out in his article, the leadership qualities on this list are, forward thinking, inspiring and courageous.
Why are good leaders so few and far between? My take on this is so many of us lack the courage it takes to step out and inspire others to do what is necessary to move our organizations forward.
Mackay quote Warren Bennis, distinguished profession of business administration at the University of Southern California, “I was finally able to come to conclusions, of which perhaps the most important is that the distinction between leaders and managers. Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.”
Think about it…are you a leader and if you aren’t and you want to be, what can you do to develop into the person you want to be? Don’t wait…start today!


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