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What is True Leadership?

What is true leadership?

You can give the same old tired definitions:

• The Easy Answer: leadership is getting people to do things they have never thought of doing, do not believe are possible or that they do not want to do.

• The Leadership in Organizations Answer: leadership is the action of committing employees to contribute their best to the purpose of the organization.

• The Complex (and more accurate) answer: you only know leadership by its consequences (results) – from the fact that individuals or a group of people start to behave in a particular way as result of the actions of someone else.

But I believe all these definitions are true in one form or the other, but they don’t tell the real story and give the kind of results we want.

True Leadership begins with:

1- The premise and understanding that:
a. Everyone wants to make a difference in this world
b. Everyone want to know their contribution is valued
c. Everyone wants to know they are appreciated

2- Next, a true leader helps individuals to attain those wants above. How?

A true leader sits down with each individual and/or group and wants to find out and understand: where are they today, where do they want to be tomorrow and six months from now, and where do they want to be 2-5 years down the road.

Next, a true leader wants to know what the individual/group expects of him/her. How will the leader assist the individual/group to success? It is not about what the leader expects of the individual/group at first. Remember, it’s about our premise. It’s about the individual, the group. It’s about expectations in the long run.

Next, a true leader draws up plans with the individual/group to lay out the Vision of Success and how it will be attained. When this occurs, this is the time the leader shares with the individual/group what the leader’s expectations are of the individual/group and how will they mesh, fit into each other. Why?

A- It is first and foremost about the individual/group

B- Second it’s about the individual’s/group’s Vision of Success

C- Third, the total sharing of expectations now comes when everyone understands the route to success and how each contributes to the attainment of success

D- Fourth, now it becomes how the individual’s/group’s contribution will add to the whole. How it will be valued and appreciated

E- When this occurs, the individual/group takes the necessary responsibility, authority, and accountability needed to make things happen. Why? They are in at the beginning, have their say and feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

That’s when a true leader excels. Not because they changed anyone’s behavior but gave people the opportunity to use their talents, abilities, and skills to the best of their ability. It’s not about changing people. It’s about motivating people! It’s about getting people to use what they possess to peak performance.

John F. Kennedy is recognized by the entire world as a great leader. Why? He understood these concepts above. When he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country!” sums it all up. He understood the 3 important premises:

a. Everyone wants to make a difference in this world
b. Everyone want to know their contribution is valued
c. Everyone wants to know they are appreciated

He understood that people want to know they accomplished something in their lives that is recognized by all. It’s as simple and as complex as that.

You don’t have to be in the lead, up front, to be a leader. Some of the greatest leaders led from behind! Think about it.

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About the Author

Fred Simkovsky,
San Antonio, TX 78245

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