Quality leadership is lacking in our country, state, and local communities. With the excessive bickering and name-calling, the people of the United States need and deserve accountable, composed, unifying, knowledgeable and decisive leadership.
Whatever an individual’s level of education, status in society, or moral character, if he or she is not honest, accountable, and knowledgeable about what he or she is saying or doing, then that person should not be in a position of leadership.
Unfortunately, too many leaders seek and get into their leadership positions because there are too many other people who do not want the responsibility of being a leader. Far too often, the best leaders opt out of the role and leave us with people who think they know, and they do not know how to do their jobs in ways that will promote better words, actions and accomplishments from the people they lead.
These people who erroneously end up in leadership positions are not void of leadership skills. Rather they have one essential leadership skill, and that is that they are willing to do the work that no one else wants to do. They are willing to take the criticism and ribbing and responsibility (sometimes) for the success or failure of their department, cabinet, committee, school, or whatever entity they lead.
These poor leaders however, more often than not, only take responsibility for their successes, and will pin the failures on an individual or group so as to deflect responsibility for being in charge of anything negative.
Poor leaders are not good listeners, and they tend to act on what they think they know rather than insure they have a full and complete scope of the situation and possibilities, and choose the best decision for the company or institution and the people served — this includes people inside and outside the institution.
Many articles about leadership point out what makes a good leader. There are 446,000,000 results under a Google search for “what makes a great leader.” Under the search “what makes for a horrible leader” there are 104,000,000 results.
Forbes published two articles identifying great leadership qualities in one article and bad leadership qualities in the other.
They both indicate that great leaders hold themselves accountable and allow the people they lead to hold them accountable too.
“Real leaders are accountable. They don’t blame others, don’t claim credit for the success of their team, but always accept responsibility for failures that occur on their watch. Most of all, leaders are accountable to their team. I’ve always said that leaders not accountable to their people will eventually be held accountable by their people,” wrote Mike Myatt, Chairman of N2Growth, in an article on Forbes.com.
We hear of local community members asking for accountability and transparency in their local governments, but there seems to be an array of responses to that request that consists of a lot of finger pointing, or there is silence, as if being quiet will make the concerns of the people go away.
Another major quality of leadership is communication, and this is an area where many leaders need to improve. Communication is key, and poor leaders do not effectively communicate with the variety of people they may have to work with.
“When leaders are constantly flummoxed by those who don’t seem to get it, there exists both a leadership and communications problem. Show me a leader with poor communication skills and I’ll show you someone who will be short-lived in their position. Great leaders can communicate effectively across mediums, constituencies, and environments. They are active listeners, fluid thinkers, and know when to dial it up, down, or off,” Myatt said.
Other skills that poor leaders do not have and great leaders do have are the ability to create a safe environment for people to say what they think, the ability to listen, the willingness to learn from others who may not be in high positions, the courage to take measured risks, genuine care and respect for the people they manage, the courage to admit when they are wrong, and the ability to show genuine care and love in their relationships with others.
Leaders are not just the everyday run-of-the-mill kind of people. They hold themselves to a higher standard and are not hypocrites.
If you are in a leadership position, it would do you and everyone else well if you take account of the quality of your leadership. If you are not getting the best from the people you work with or manage, perhaps it is because you are not giving the best of you to the job you are expected to do.
People can learn to be great leaders, but it takes consistent effort and a desire to be the best for the job and for the people you manage and serve. If you are in it for your own glory or just a better paycheck, perhaps you should step down rather than try to step further up that ladder of leadership.
Leadership is not about the individual, it is about the individual helping the group be and do better for everyone.