On Leadership

One half of my job title is Leader.  My opinion is it’s that word, rather than Manager, so I can’t complain about pay rises.  But I applied for the job and so it’s my own fault.  But I digress.

I come across a number of other people who are “….. Leader”s and I have found that the various leaders differ in many ways.  So let’s discuss what I think of as a leader and the examples we see in the real world.

In my view, the leader – whether it be in work, politics, boy scout troops or sports teams – needs to be someone who will make unpopular decisions and be prepared to take any flak about them.  It means passing on and selling unpopular decisions to teams or any other grouping, to explain them, to discuss them and ultimately to say “thanks for your comments, I can make some small changes, but it will happen”.  It means, to coin a phrase, “the buck stops here”.  To be successful, you need to be able to take a vision or statement and to get buy in from the people you are selling it to.  It means that you have to cut through the crap, to put aside the small (and sometimes petty) disagreements and just make it happen.  Sometimes you have to make yourself into the bad guy, often it can mean making a decision today that won’t bear fruit for some weeks, months or years.  And it means that once something is happening, you have to keep it happening.  Often your day is so frustrating that you want to go home and kick the cat (or a pillow or a bollard) and, if you are lucky, you get to go home knowing that you made a difference and made someone’s life or day easier.  It’s usually a role that looks easy until you do it.  At least that’s pretty much how I view the role.

If you are lucky,  and I am, the leader’s leader is also someone who can do these things.  And then you get the other sort.

I come across, and see in the news, the sorts of leader’s that you don’t want.  These people are the ones who will never take responsibility.  They pass decisions, even the smallest decisions, up the line.  Things are other people’s fault or they rely on someone else to lead.  They allow the team to make the decisions and then pass those up the line.  They want to be everyone’s friend, everyone’s pal, until it comes time to do something.  And then they step back and let someone else do it.

Grrrr.  Anyway, rant over.

Posted on 3 May, 2006, in Rants. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. A good leader has a sign on his desk that says “The buck stops here”

    A bad leader has a sign on his desk that says “The buck went thataway”

  2. This is true. Unfortunately we all come across the second type of leader all too often.

  3. You forgot the other half. That’s *supporting* the people that actually *do* the work. ;-p

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