When we speak of our leaders, what are our expectations of them? When we discuss leadership what are the characteristics we believe makes a leader effective? Is it their honesty, charisma, knowledge, determination, communication skills and fairness? We could list a myriad of characteristics that would influence our perception of a leader’s effectiveness, and any of those attributes implemented successfully may accurately define that leader. I wonder is the pure, untainted leader lost forever in our society? In the mist of political and corporate corruption, and the thirst for power, wealth, fame and the not so almighty dollar, will there ever be a leader in the future who will not compromise their principles? I honestly do not know, but the trend is not promising. Most importantly, what are our children’s expectations of those who impact and influence their lives, and how will that example effect the development of their own leadership aptitude? These are great questions to discuss around the dinner table, in the work place, and in the classroom.
What does it mean to be a leader? The “New Oxford American Dictionary” defines leadership as, “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” How boring is that? Although a definition, it does not take into consideration the human impact of leadership, and the consequences of that leadership. If the outcome is destructive in nature is that effective leadership? Within my “No Excuse!” training sessions I define leadership as, “the ability to lead a group of individuals, to the successful accomplishment of a common purpose”. However, even that definition does not take into consideration how the accomplishment was achieved. I believe the outcome of any leadership endeavor should include a component where the results were attained ethically, and the outcome beneficial to those being led, and the common purpose. What does it mean to be ethical? Ethical is defined in the same dictionary as, “of or relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with,” and morality is defined as, “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong, or good and bad behavior.” It is a leader’s responsibility to clarify to those being led the difference between right and wrong, and its’ relevancy to the successful achievement of the common purpose. Granted, defining right and wrong can be left too much interpretation based on one’s ideology and even religion, but I define moral behavior as revolving around treating my fellow man and woman with dignity and respect. I am sure you would agree, that now more than ever we need ethical leadership in our government, communities, businesses, schools and homes.
In my experiences as a leader in the military, the corporate world, running my own business, service to the community, and most importantly my family, I have recognized several common characteristics that are inherent in the results of effective leadership. First, a solidification of trust is generated within the entity being led, producing positive and constructive levels of communication. Second, an increase in loyalty to the leader, and dedication to the mission, vision, and the core values that embody the entity we are leading. Third, producing greater motivation among followers to execute the process in achieving the objective. Finally, establishing consistent professional conduct, resulting in mutual respect and dedication among those being led.
We all set an example to others on a daily basis, and the effectiveness of that example is a direct result of the approach stated above. To lead is an honored opportunity to have bestowed upon any individual, but with it comes the responsibility of leadership, and the aftermath of the leader’s efforts. During the process of leading those we are responsible for, it takes enormous personal strength to take accountability for the mistakes made, and tremendous humility when success is achieved. Be a leader of principle, strength, and competence, but most importantly be a leader of honesty and moral fortitude. There is No Excuse!