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What If Leadership Was More Than a Buzzword

What if leadership was more than a buzzword?What if “Leadership” was more than a buzzword? What If…What if leadership was more than just another contentious term bantered around in meaningless conversations? What if leadership was truly understood, modeled, and actually experienced as the rule and not the exception? In the text that follows I’ll  answer these questions and hopefully encourage you to reevaluate how you view the practice of leadership…

Have you ever felt as if  the term “leadership” has a bulls-eye painted on it? Well, it’s because it does – the very mention of the word leadership seems to draw fire from increasingly large numbers these days. The term has been inappropriately hi-jacked by the politically correct who mock it, the avant-garde who belittle it, the naive who discount it, and the public at large seems to be growing tired of hearing about it. I’m befuddled by this dismissive attitude, and am left wondering how we could have arrived at such a place – how could something so valuable be trivialized by so many?

Why does all this matter? Because leadership matters…Whether through malice or naivete, those who trivialize the value of leadership place us all at risk…Poor leadership cripples businesses, ruins economies, destroys families, loses wars, and can bring the demise of nations. The demand for true leaders has never been greater –   when society misunderstands the importance of leadership, and when the world inappropriately labels non-leaders as leaders we are all worse for the wear.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason so many attempt to ridicule leadership is twofold: 1.) The masses of feigned leaders in the public eye make it easy to do so, and; 2.) Real leaders tend to practice their craft quietly, and with great humility, often going unnoticed in the public eye.

By my definition, leaders are not self-promoting, pseudo celebrities whose propensity for personal achievement and media attention far outweigh their true contributions. Rather than focus on the braggarts that litter the media with their personal triumphs, or the charlatans who provide constant reminders of failed leadership, we need to focus our attention on the true leaders who quietly walk among us each day…ethical business people, soldiers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, principled educators, pastors & theologians, medical practitioners, responsible parents, student achievers, volunteers, statesmen (notice I didn’t say politicians), good Samaritans, and the every day hard working American citizen. These are the real leaders who through their personal sacrifice, committed service, and selfless acts who deserve our respect and attention.

So my challenge to you is this…the next time someone demeans the value of leadership in an attempt to show how cool or intelligent they are, stand your ground, engage, educate and inform them of the value of leadership, and don’t let them denigrate the value of leadership. But most of all, I would encourage you to engage in the practice of modeling true leadership – when all is said and done, it is your actions not your words that will demonstrate your true beliefs.

I’d hope that what’s been espoused above sets the stage for an active dialogue in comments below. This is a subject that deserves a serious conversation by serious people. I welcome your thoughts and observations…

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    Jurgen Appelo

    July 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    The problem is not people attacking the word leadership.
    The problem started by people _abusing_ the term leadership for management.
    Here's part of the preface I'm writing for my book…

    There is a group of people who claim that “leadership is different from management,” in the sense that leadership is about inspiration and “giving direction,” while management is about execution and “maintaining direction.” Leadership is seen as something that takes place on a “higher level” than management, exemplified by diagrams picturing executive leaders above middle managers. I cringe every time I see company presenting their top executives as “our leadership.”

    The problem with this view is it disregards the fact that any person in an organization can be a leader in some area. Every employee can inspire others and give them direction, whether their passion is in architecture, coaching, GUI design, cooking, unit testing, social media, or Starcraft. Whether or not a leader is also a top executive is completely irrelevant to the concept of leadership.

    The top-executives-must-be-leaders mantra also ignores the fact that shareholders need executives to _manage_ their business. They don’t need executives just to _lead_ their business, because, by definition, leaders have no power of authority over their followers. Why should a shareholder give her money to a person with no formal authority in the organization? It makes no sense.

    Unfortunately, these days many “leadership” books, blogs and seminars turn out to be intended for formal managers, not for informal leaders. It is just old wine in new bottles. For executives it is trendy to call themselves “leaders,” no matter whether anyone is actually following them or not!

    Managers use "leadership" as a social myth to reinforce their positions in the management hierarchy. I call them leadership princes (and princesses), because they think their position makes them more qualified than others to lead people.
    http://www.management30.com

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Jurgen:

      Your passion on the topic is clear and I appreciate your observations. Leadership is clearly something that transcends titles and the more people understand that leadership is not about self, but rather about selflessness the better chance they have for becoming significant leaders. Thanks for sharing Jurgen

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    Randy Hall

    July 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Mike,

    Love your take on this.

    I think most of us have never defined leadership for ourselves and so we allow our definition to change shape as new "leaders" are thrust into the spotlight and capture our attention.

    We wait for someone to show us leadership instead of deciding what kind of leader we want to be, and then measuring others, and ourselves, against that standard.

    Until we decide what good leadership means to us, lots of people can pose as good leaders.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas,

    Randy

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Randy – You make two very significant points: Attempting to understand the undefined is difficult at best, and having standards/values/practices to benchmark against is both practical and necessary. Thank you for sharing these needed reminders.

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    Art Petty

    July 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Mike, I love the power of your writing and your ideas! Thanks for doing what you do.

    My focus on this topic is for the "leaders" in organizations that trivialize the value of this profession (yes, I believe that leadership is a profession), by paying lip-service to or ignoring the need to foster a healthy leadership development culture. Other than luck and hope (bad strategies, indeed!), I don't know how to win in business without doing everything possible to identify, develop and retain great people. Part and parcel of that is ensuring that the organization and its managers support the development of leadership skills for formal and informal leaders alike.

    As an aside, we all recognize the increasing complexity of business due to global forces, the advance of technology, time-compression, demographic changes etc. Yesterday's figure-head leader is almost (thankfully) extinct. The leader of tomorrow is flexible, adaptable; a leader one day and a follower the next and someone capable of dealing with extreme ambiguity and the swirl of market forces. Unless the organization is working hard to foster the skills to guide, motivate, decide, inspire, strategize, collaborate, innovate and execute (all core requirements to lead), it is in danger of extinction as well.

    The ultimate respect that we as managers and leaders can pay to the profession and to our organizations is to recognize the value in fostering effective leadership development and skills in all of our associates.

    I love the observations in the comments here from Jurgen and Randy. Wise words.

    Thanks for inspiring some great discussion and providing me a few moments on my own personal leadership soapbox, Mike!

    -Art

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      Art:

      Thanks for the kind words and astute insights. Your reminder that the practice of leadership is about what can be fostered in others as opposed to what can be accomplished for one's self is something that needs to be trumpeted. Thanks again for adding to the discussion Art.

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    David M. Kasprzak

    July 29, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    This is a great, great post. Thanks for being honest, and calling attention to what has become a woeful set of cliches.

    A big part of the leadership shortage has to do with how we identify and promote potential "leaders." We find people with gobs of technical merit, and promote them, then try to teach them how to be leaders. What we ignore, however, are those "positive deviants" who don't go along with the norm, challenge the status quo, develop their own ideas and are busy identifying new and better ways of getting things done. As you say, these folks tend to go about things quietly and, very often, neither request nor receive their just rewards.

    What we are left with are not leaders, but followers: people who did everything that was asked of them, and rose up in the organization because of it. Unfortunately, as this goes on for a period of time, when crises occur and genuine leaders are required, there's simply no one around with the make up needed to take the reigns and lean.

    A few months ago, I wrote a post on my blog on this. Feel free to check it out: http://myflexiblepencil.com/2010/05/24/leadership

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm

      Hi David:

      Thanks for your comment and the link to your post. I absolutely love the concept of "positive deviants." Your observations about the wrong people moving-up in an organization for the wrong reasons are very accurate. This is a systemic problem that I'm thankful you pointed out. You might be interested in reading the following two posts which flesh out this topic in greater detail: https://hub.n2growth.com/loyalty-tenure and https://hub.n2growth.com/identifying-leaders

      Thanks again David…

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    Mark Sanborn

    July 29, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Terrific post, Mike. And I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusions. Just because a mouse lives in a cookie jar doesn't make it a cookie. Too many become "leaders" by calling themselves as much. Real leadership is proven by who follows and how those followers are influenced.

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks Mark

      I love your analogy – absolutely spot-on. I've always said opinion often masquerades as fact by way of self-delusion. Thanks for sharing Mark.

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    Ken Otter

    July 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Great post! I too think leadership matters. Like you, I believe that when leadership is alive and present in social enterprises of all kinds, purposes are fulfilled, the enterprise is evolving and vital, and the world in which it participates is better off. Yes, it makes a difference. Like you, I also believe the need for leadership as never been greater– the complexity and interdependent nature of our world today, and the powers of our technologies require it.

    Another reason I think leadership gets ridicule is because there is so much unskillfulness in the name of leadership and people want terminology that reflects activity that is generative and constructive.

    I too feel leadership is something worthy of dialogue and meaning making. In my conversations with people, who are enthused to develop their understanding and practice of leadership, view it as a way of contributing toward something purposeful, a way of engaging others positively, and having an inward as well as an outward orientation. Of course, the important work is to put these "values" into practice. In my mind, making good sense of the term is so that effective learning pathways can be designed to improve one's practice of leadership.

    Again, great post!

    If interested, feel free to check out my occasional musings on leadership in the 21st century at: http://smcleadershipcenter.blogspot.com

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 5:53 pm

      Hi Ken:

      What wonderful perspective – I particularly liked the following excerpt: "I think leadership gets ridicule is because there is so much unskillfulness in the name of leadership and people want terminology that reflects activity that is generative and constructive."

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ken…

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    mikehenrysr

    July 29, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    It seems like people are tired of positional leaders with no character. Everyone loves a leader who takes responsibility, serves their constituency and helps people win. In our greed over the last few years (or centuries) we will follow some less-than-respectable people. Remember when we all listened to Jeffrey Skilling? We should be quick to point out that the problem lies not in who leads, but in who we choose to follow. Shame on us for following people who aren't worthy of it.

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 5:56 pm

      Well said Mike – who we choose to follow is a choice, who we allow to remain in authority is often a choice, and most importantly, who we allow ourselves and those we love to become is also a choice. Profound thoughts Mike.

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        Tanveer Naseer

        July 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm

        I concur with Mike; it's easy to simply put the blame for our ills on those we associate with "leadership" positions and ignore our own responsibility regarding the choice we make as to who we wish to follow. Of course, excuses for such conduct are a-plenty: economy is doing bad, company is growing so there's plenty of opportunities, people are tired of uncertainty and want to hold onto the familiar.

        And yet, our response in each of these circumstances is in many ways like those we now like to criticize or blame for the problems we now face. Of course, if we consider the fact that a true leader's function is to help guide those around them to reaching a shared goal, surely such an attitude is not so much a sign of something wrong with leadership as it is a sign that we need to re-evaluate what it is we wish to accomplish collectively.

        Great piece, Mike, and I'm equally enjoying the comments your piece is inspiring.

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          mikemyatt

          July 29, 2010 at 9:31 pm

          Thanks for stopping by Tanveer. I've found that the most beneficial part of any blog is found in the collective wisdom of it's readers as the author's opinions are tested, debated, and hopefully refined. That said, I believe you and Mike are spot-on in your thinking. As you pointed out in your comment, a leaders ability to align interests is one test of a leader. The flip-side of the coin is can a leader still be effective when interests aren't aligned? Good food for thought Tanveer.

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    The Booth Company

    July 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    This is a very interesting take on a word that so many people (and organizations) throw around so freely. I think that part of the struggle of becoming a leader is defining the term in your own mind and making your own standards of behavior. Some do this better than others– but that's why we have executive coaching.

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 5:58 pm

      Thanks for sharing the need for definition of standards, behaviors, values, etc. – See my reply to Randy's comment above for why this is so important. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

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    Mark Oakes

    July 29, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Mike,

    As always, exceptional insight!

    I won't reframe the excellent comments from your readers. Rather, I'll zero in on your point that there are countless great leaders out there operating below the radar, demonstrating what it means to lead, serve and crystalize a better future for those who follow. I happen to agree 100%.

    Unfortunately, we live in a world of sound bites and media-driven sensationalism where negative press is the order of the day. We read the stories and watch talking heads castrate the nobel calling of leadership on a daily basis. It's hard to solely blame media, though. If our society as a whole didn't demand this type of news the news would wither rather quickly.

    The 'Calling' is clear. If we're dissatisfied with leadership then stop pointing fingers and whining about it. Step up and do two things. Learn first to truly lead ourselves and then step into the leadership vaccum and do something about it.

    M

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks Mark, but the kudos for the keen insight should go to you. You point out a great motto to help a person guide their actions: "stop whining and start doing." Thanks again Mark.

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    Susan mazza

    July 29, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Great discussion topic Mike with so many excellent points.

    It is interesting to me that we feel compelled to add adjectives to leadership like "true" and "real". I think that is for the same reason there is a growing disdain for the term leadership. As many point out, we have misapplied the term "leader" using it to label people based on title position and/or notoriety rather than because these people have earned our trust and respect and our choice to be lead by them because we want to go where there are leading.

    We continue to expect people to behave as leaders when they are in positions of leadership and we have often been disappointed and felt misled.

    Yet I also think we all too often set people up to fail as leaders. We wait to teach the principles and practices of leadership all too often until people are already in the positions that require leadership to succeed. We vote for people based on who will serve our own self interests and tear "leaders" down who are doing their best to do the right for concerns bigger than us as individuals. We are far too easily swayed by popular opinion and take sides purely based on party politics rather than thinking for ourselves.

    I'm with you…leadership matters. The quality of our life and our future in every dimension depends on it. And leadership begins with each and every one of us. If we want a better future and lament the absence of "true" leaders a great place to start is examining our own beliefs and start taking a stand for the people who are courageous enough to step up and lead or to step up ourselves as you so eloquently point out. I am not excusing bad or misplaced leadership, but I do want to call attention to our propensity to make leadership, true or real, someone elses responsibility.

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

      Hi Susan:

      Thanks for the great observations Susan. I particularly enjoyed your statement that: "we all too often set people up to fail as leaders. We wait to teach the principles and practices of leadership until people are already in the positions that require leadership to succeed." While there is a certain amount of OJT that goes along with any position, the risks are magnified significantly when a "learn as you go" mentality is over-applied to leadership roles. Thanks for sharing your perspective Susan.

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    ronedmondson

    July 29, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. It's making me think.

    I recently finished a master's degree in organizational leadership, even though I have a seminary masters, because I believe leadership is critical to the health of the church. God used leaders in Scripture it appears to me. Interestingly, throughout our studies, we had a hard time coming to a consensus on exactly what leadership is and isn't.

    Great discussion.

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm

      Hi Ron:

      Thanks for sharing your observations about the critical nature that leadership plays in the health of an organization. Whether in the church, the corporate world, the military, etc., an organization with weak leadership is an organization destined for troubled times. Isn't it interesting that people have such varied opinions of how to define leadership? I've found that while people may debate the validity or effectiveness of leadership styles, they usually can agree upon certain leadership traits. If interested, two posts that address this conundrum in greater detail are as follows: https://hub.n2growth.com/the-qualities-of-a-l… and https://hub.n2growth.com/ceo-decisioning

      Thanks for adding value to the dialog Ron.

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    Kevin W. Grossman

    July 29, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    What an important discussion, Mike. For me, the mantra of true leadership starts with me, personal responsibility and an incessant desire to be better. Then, no matter what role I take beyond my immediate ownership of thought and action, I can and will hopefully inspire others to insight a responsible riot in kind.

    That's the kind of change management the world needs today, the cumulative effect of one person at a time.

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 10:07 pm

      We're giving rise to some great word pictures today with "responsible riot" being right in there with "positive deviant." That said, you point is a great one, if you cannot lead yourself, you should not be allowed to lead others. While I generally agree with the concept of personal leadership, I think people need to be cautious not to misapply or misinterpret its value or its priority within the greater context. If a leader becomes too focused on "self" they can lose perspective and forget the value of "selflessness." Great insights Kevin…thanks for sharing.

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    Steve Denning

    July 29, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I think Jurgen makes an important point.

    Thus it’s interesting to note that the thinking about leadership is quite recent. For most of the 20th Century, we talked about managers, not leaders.

    An early source for the shift to “leadership” was Abraham Zaleznik’s HBR article, “Managers and Leaders Are They Different?” Harvard Business Review. 1977, 82 (1), p74-81. This was republished in 2004 and again as recently as this week, as “Best of HBR” as though to imply that the article represents cutting edge thinking.

    Zaleznik distinguishes leaders and managers. In his piece, the skill set of a pure manager comes with a set of attitudes that he described as: “First, the manage focuses on procedure and not on substance… Second, the manager communicates to subordinates by “signals”… Third, the manager plays for time.” What we have here of course is the perfect picture of the manager in a Dilbert cartoon.

    In some ways, the Zaleznik article of 1977 was an intellectual advance in that provided the insight that traditional managers operate differently from genuine leaders who can inspire people to act differently.

    That might have been a useful insight if it had led to a re-examination of whether the skills and attitudes of pure managers operating in Dilbert cartoon style were appropriate, even in 1977. But that would have meant reconsidering some of the fundamental assumptions of management. So instead, what it led to was the idea of dual tracks. There are leaders to inspire people to change, and there are managers to grind out the execution. Two separate groups of people.

    The problem was of course that the two groups worked at cross-purposes. As much as leaders inspired employees with new ideas, managers tended to dispirit those same people with their Dilbert-cartoon style management. The result was counter-productive, but it provided the intellectual justification for managers continuing to manage just as they had for lo, these many decades.

    So yes, there is a problem with leadership, but perhaps an even bigger problem with “managers”. We need managers who are real leaders, not just buzzwords.

    This morning, I took HBR to task for their apparent endorsement of Zaleznik’s 33 year old thinking, and they have—amazingly—issued a kind of apology. You can read more about this on my blog at: http://bit.ly/cwpAm5

    So fixing leadership is not enough. We need also to fix managers.
    Steve

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      mikemyatt

      July 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm

      Aren't we all in search of the Utopian business Shangri-La of leaders as managers and managers as leaders 🙂 All kidding aside, those of us who have experienced professionals who possess both attributes, and who actually choose to apply them, certainly long for more…But alas, most people realize that these multi-talented individuals are the exception and not the rule. Therefore, your point is a rational one – we must become better at diffusing tension and getting those lacking in one area or another to broaden skill-sets where they can, or to learn to play nicely with one another where they cannot. Astute observations to be sure Steve. Thanks for sharing.

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    john baldoni

    July 30, 2010 at 1:44 am

    Frankly I don't see any problem with leaders or leadership. The problem is that those who don't know ascribe the word to anyone with a title. As Mike so clearly demonstrates, leadership is earned. I defer to James MacGregor Burns who defines leaders as those with positive intentions. True enough we refer to heads of state as leaders but true leaders are those who do the best they can for the most people they can in order to create opportunities that benefit the organization.
    Keep the pot stirring, Mike.

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      mikemyatt

      July 30, 2010 at 4:47 am

      Thanks John…I always appreciate your insights. While I agree with the practical side of your observation, the reality is that it's not just a few people that ascribe the word to anyone with a title, but it has become an all too common stereotype adopted by media, pundits, and frankly much of society. This is the problem we're facing…The trick is to get people to actually understand that leadership isn't always reflected in a title – even though it should be. Thanks for sharing your observations John…

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    weeklyleader

    July 30, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Thought provoking post with super comments! As usual.

    In the maritime world we have a similar word that is often a catalyst for lively conversation: seamanship. Like leadership, it defies our tendency to want to break it down and put it's pieces neatly into little boxes. Seamanship, like leadership, is about having the capacity to adapt to constantly changing conditions and exercising the requisite skill(s) to produce a positive outcome. The sea can teach us a lot about leadership.

    On the Weekly Leader podcast we try to focus our discussions on the exercise of leadership and to avoid using the term leader or leadership as a noun and/or role. (This objective ends up being nearly impossible to accomplish, but we try.)

    Leadership, like seamanship, is something that you practice or exercise. Adding those 4 letters to a noun complicates things. It tries to make it into an art form, the interpretation/appreciation of which will always lie in the eye of the beholder.

    Finally, "bad" leadership, if there can be such a thing, can usually be most closely tied to authority or role. (some politicians come to mind). But "good" leadership is always a result of positive activity or influence.

    We can discuss or argue all day long about defining leadership, but like Justice Potter Stewart once said about another controversial subject, "I know it when I see it."

    Thanks again for producing such a great post and to all of the other commenters that have added value to it.

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      mikemyatt

      July 30, 2010 at 4:51 am

      Great insights Peter…the seamanship comparison draws a clear parallel that helps add clarity to the discussion. I also appreciated your distinction between good and bad leadership. Thanks for sharing Peter…

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    Oarabile

    July 30, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Hi Mike
    Great subject and thanks for elaborating it by taking the most neglected and despised people. But i want to share about my perception about leadership. I believe everyday we live among leaders and some even though they don't know that they are one. It is a common to most folks to think about leadership as position which is a myth and misleading about the true leadership. Leadership is not about position but the personality, character displayed in any place and being able to carry yourself with dignity anytime.

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      mikemyatt

      July 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      We are in complete agreement on this in principle, but the reality is that it should be incumbent upon those who hold certain titles/responsibilities/roles to exhibit sound leadership. It is those who should, but do not fulfill this obligation that I take issue with.

      Furthermore, as you correctly pointed out, it is also quite possible and beneficial for those with lessor positions to be effective leaders as well. Thanks for sharing Orabile

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    Gwyn Teatro

    July 30, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Hi Mike
    Every now and then I love a good rant and yours has a great deal of substance to it.

    I’m thinking that we allow numerous things to get in the way of achieving a view of leadership that includes understanding, respect, appropriate modeling and consistency.

    For example, so many organizations value competition over collaboration. While competition in the marketplace, between businesses is generally a healthy thing, internal competition between people is more often less so. Many, in organizations, spend far too much time competing with each other for plum posts, the best assignments, the most perquisites etc. In this kind of environment, the notion of humility and working for the greater good gets lost. And, in my observation, it gets little or no reward.

    Similarly, when the pressure to perform is great and the major measurement of success is bottom line result, there is little incentive for people to be of service to others, resulting in a hoarding rather than a sharing mentality.

    I could go on but won’t because there is no particular revelation in what I have just said.

    Perhaps though, to allow true leadership to emerge from the rubble of these toxic cultures, we have to go back to basics, starting with the values we espouse, and instill in our children. Perhaps we need to reward those who make leadership about people… not things, not money, not status.

    I’ve often heard it said, “what gets rewarded, gets done.”

    If we want all of those everyday leaders to shine unencumbered somehow we must stop rewarding the wrong behaviour and work toward a different common definition of what constitutes success.

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this discussion!

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      mikemyatt

      July 31, 2010 at 1:52 am

      Hi Gwyn:

      Thanks for the great observations and insights. In my opinion your statement "Perhaps we need to reward those who make leadership about people… not things, not money, not status." is absolutely on point. Leadership if not about the people, is about nothing. Thanks for reminding us all why we do what we do – brilliant.

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    Stephen

    July 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I enjoyed this reflection. I think one of the reasons is that LEADERSHIP is such a vague word. Those not involved in the craft only have wishy-washy understanding of what we're talking about. Thanks for the perspective. I've added you to my blogroll (http://binderclipblog.blogspot.com/) and look forward to reading more.

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      mikemyatt

      August 1, 2010 at 12:31 am

      Hi Stephen – Thanks for adding me to your blogroll and I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Squishy definitions, conflicting definitions or no definition always presents a problem. Thanks for sharing Stephen…

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    David Brand

    July 31, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Mike,
    I have truly valued reading your original posting on "What if Leadership was More than a Buzzword?" and the ever-growing thread from a wonderful group of leaders whose experience and wisdom is being shared here.
    I would like to hone in on your comment that "it is your actions, not your words, that will demonstrate your true beliefs." If I may be so 'bold' I would modify this and restate it as: It is your actions AND your words that will demonstrate your true beliefs. What is a challenge is when a person's actions and their words are misaligned. People will not know what we truly 'stand for' when our actions and our words point to different things. When all is said and done I have noticed that when my words are saying one thing and my actions are demonstrating another …. that is when the trouble comes forth. So when we see the disconnects around the words 'leader' and 'leadership' I think it is in the context of this misalignment of actions AND words taht we encounter discord.
    One other challenge is when a leader is 'taking others' in directions that run against their beliefs. When the followers compromise and are swayed away from what they know is right in their hearts is where a leader and their leadership can cause those observing the situation to see leadership as a negative not a positive.
    Many thanks to all who have shared their great insights. I look forward to continuing to learn through these wonderful interactions with each of you!

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      mikemyatt

      August 1, 2010 at 12:37 am

      Hi Dave – Please forgive my cavalier quip. You are correct that the alignment of word and deed is absolutely critical for authentic leadership. Inconsistencies in this regard will eventually lead to a lack of confidence and undermine a leader's ability to perform. Great insights Dave – thanks for weighing-in.

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    knowledgebishop

    September 7, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Thank you Mike. It is true that attention often goes to those with volume, rather than those with vision. After prolonged exposure to ego-driven edicts, many minds now link “leadership” with selfish ambition. In truth, the drive to BECOME somebody is the polar opposite of the heart to SERVE someone. A true leader is the latter. I accept your challenge, and will make every effort to clarify the difference.

    Defending Leadership | Lead Change Group

    October 30, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    […] Leadership Posted on September 6, 2010 by Mike MyattNote: This post was originally posted as “What If Leadership Was More Than A Buzzword?” on my N2Growth blog in July of 2010.  The question is still valid.What if “Leadership” […]

    […] What If Leadership Was More Than A Buzzword? by Mike Myatt (posted 7/29/10) […]

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