What do you think makes a great leader?
A winning personality?
Management guru Peter Drucker begs to differ. Leadership is about results, he says in The Essential Drucker.
You’re not born a leader. Anyone can get there with laborious, iterated practice. Leaders give their followers a frame of expectations and a clear path to tread.
Drucker’s leadership rule No. 1: “The leader’s first task is to be the trumpet that sounds a clear sound.”
How does he do that? His distinguishing characteristic is he sticks to his goals like ants on honey. You can’t wait for the right opportunity to just come along. Your goals should be written down. And marinated in your mind, so they flavor every action that comes out of you and your team.
I heard Karen Farber say this brilliantly at a recent Houston Arts Alliance event as she paraphrased her mentor, all-star arts administrator Michael Kaiser: As an administrator or leader, you should be able to make a decision in three seconds or less. How so? It takes only three seconds to figure out if the opportunity will support your mission and goals. It’s that simple when you’re accustomed to letting those specific, written statements guide you.
Drucker’s Leadership Rule No. 2: Take responsibility.
The leader doesn’t feel threatened by ambitious subordinates but revels in their triumphs as her triumphs. She does not point the finger at others and understands responsibility ultimately falls on her. Sounds anti-Donald Trump, doesn’t it?
Drucker’s Leadership Rule No. 3: Earn trust.
Your followers don’t have to like you or agree with you, but they do have to trust you. “Effective leadership…is not based on being clever; it is based primarily on being consistent,” says Drucker. Manage expectations, follow through and be genuine in what you say.
What would you add to Drucker’s list of requirements for effective leadership? I think effective leaders help foster a culture of ongoing creativity, learning and innovation among followers. Earning trust is easier said than done. In addition to being consistent, you have to recognize the humanity of your followers and develop person-to-person connections with them. Recognize who they are outside of being a means to your business ends.
What qualities have you most admired among the leaders in your life or in history?
Photo credits: Wikimedia-Commons User Túrelio; Matthew Yohe, http://www.zhaxizhuoma.net/IMAGES/STUPAS/Stupa-Diagram.jpg; http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/272814244.