Over the years, I have seen a lot of people pass through a variety of leadership positions. Whether it has been in the workplace, a volunteer driven church, or a in a family, the result is the same. We have a serious leadership void in our society. We have confused the term “leader” with that of “manager”. I think of a manager as one that maintains the path that has been laid out before them, whereas a leader is one who ploughs new territory, pursuing vision with fervency and diligence. The leader keeps pulse of where those they are leading are and devotes their energy toward making any adjustments necessary to continue moving toward the vision within them. There are not many individuals that I have encountered that I would readily assign the title of “leader” to.
One such person that earned this title is a division manager I used to work under. His name was Tom and there were certain characteristics about him that exuded leadership. For starters, he knew his stuff. He was very, very good at what he did and could smell B.S. from a mile away. He also followed through on what he said he would do, but would delegate because he understood the power of empowering others to lead. When a leader empowers others, he is gradually replacing himself to the point that no one realizes he is gone. On a personal level, he showed that he knew how to care for his people and also how to have fun. It was a unique mix that I have not encountered up close and personal before…nor since.
I want to expound upon each of these characteristics over the coming posts. I believe there are leaders out there that sit undiscovered, with the integrity and willingness to do whatever it takes. However, they have no idea how to lead because no one has shown them what it looks like. By using Tom as the example, let us glimpse at what makes a good leader. I love this quote by Warren Bennis:
“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”