Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Fast Company's Doug Sundheim has a post on "What is Great Leadership?" It sucks that you can't access the article in this month's Fast Company he links to without subscribing, which is an annoying move by them (most major magazines have the issue online for free for a limited time). Anyway, I initially posted this at the Coro Blog, which I've been horrible at maintaining lately, since it's part of a leadership development program I went through.

I thought it would be good to post it here too, so I decided to cut and paste it here. Once in a while I'll post the same content on both blogs, but generally it's a pain. This is one reason why I'm looking forward to our platform, GoingOn, launching since we will provide people with the power to post once and it will go up onto as many blogs as you like. Cool for lazy-butts like me :)

FC's current issue on Leadership got me thinking about the definition of the word. In my consulting and coaching I often ask my clients to define great leadership. The most
common answer I get is a list of traits. It usually includes descriptions such as effective communicator, strategic thinker, visionary, smart, charismatic, and straightforward, among many others. I point out that while these lists are interesting and useful, they don't actually define great leadership. They merely define possible characteristics of great leaders. What they don't tell you is how
effectively a leader is actually leading.

Something to consider:

Exhibiting leadership traits" doesn't make one a great leader. If you really want to know how well someone is leading, look at his/her followers. How are they behaving? What are they producing? How have they grown? While traits are good at predicting leadership success, only followers' actions can demonstrate it.

Something to try:

1. On a scale of 1-10, rate your leadership abilities based solely on your followers' actions.
2. Write down where on the scale you'd like to be.
3. If there's a gap, what can you be doing better?
4. If you're not sure, check in with some colleagues or staff members.
5. To be a great leader, stay focused on creating an environment in which others can excel.

Questions: How do you define great leadership?

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