My First Blog

First off, thanks for clicking on my blog. A few months ago, I started thinking about chronicling some of my thoughts about what I think is a fairly elusive topic: leadership. I purposely chose the word “elusive,” because if you ask 100 people their definition of leadership, you’ll likely get 100 different answers. I find the entire topic of leadership interesting, but the main purpose of my blog is to discuss some of the common (and some uncommon) questions associated with it.

 

Questions like:

  • Are leaders born or made?
  • What makes someone a great leader?
  • What are some common leadership theories (and how can you benefit from knowing about them)?
  • What are the effects of toxic leadership?

 

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why the heck would someone choose to write about leadership?” It’s a fair question. Certainly, the past year has presented any number of challenges worth writing about. So, why not write about working remotely, resilience, or disaster preparedness? While those are interesting subjects, for me, the fulcrum that each of those topics balances on is leadership, whether it’s leadership of self or others.

 

To some, the topic of leadership is a pretty straightforward. For example, they might suggest that if someone has a title above you (e.g., “the boss”), then they’re your leader. Therefore, the mandates and expectations of your boss should be carried out without question. You should obey these decisions, no matter how good or bad they are for the organization or the people that work in it. Personally, I think that leadership goes deeper than that. To me, a key component of leadership is the quality of the mandates that are being made, not just the title of the one giving them. In fact, if you’re in a leadership position, a good question to ask yourself is, “Would these people follow me if I were their peer?” If you’re being honest, and the answer is “no,” then you have some work to do. And, that really is the point of this blog: breaking down what good leaders do and the questions that they ask themselves before they make decisions or give mandates.

 

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to witness leaders of all stripes. Some were immensely inspiring. They offered guidance, taught team members new skills, encouraged them to take risks, stretched team members’ capabilities. They also offered their direct reports the opportunity to take the lead when appropriate. Others were quite the opposite. Those leaders rarely interacted with their people, offered little or no guidance, and only corrected mistakes when their superior brought it to their attention. In my opinion, the major difference between these two types of leaders is that one realizes that good leadership is about work, while the other is simply relying to their title. It seems fairly obvious. However, many so called leaders put little, if any, effort into doing the actual work of leadership. For some, it’s just what they think their job is about. I once worked for a boss who would avoid conversations with anyone in the department like we had the plague. Although we occupied the same office, the team wouldn’t see them for days on end. They also avoided any talk about job performance unless you brought it up. Needless to say, they did not give annual performance appraisals although it was the organization’s policy to give one. Although, in their defense, there was barely a consequence for not doing them. It’s really kind of absurd when you think of it. If we heard of a basketball coach who took no interest in their team’s improvement and read the newspaper during games, we would expect that they would be fired! Yet, somehow organizations tolerate, encourage and sometimes applaud, the laissez-faire (let’s say “lazy”) leaders. Ironically, these same organizations are stupefied when they find themselves in trouble. Quite honestly, the irony fascinates me!

 

Over the course of this blog, I will explore these types of situations and the topic of leadership from all angles. I hope you will find it interesting and, most importantly, helpful.