10 Truths About Leadership

"To be a leader is to enjoy the special privileges of complexity, of ambiguity, of diversity - but especially the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who permit us to lead." ~ Max DePree

I have often wondered if you take someone who is a great leader out of their context or circumstance, would they continue to be a great leader? Well, my question has been answered.

The answer is "Yes."

I had the opportunity to hear Jim Kouzes, co-author with Barry Posner, of "The Truth about Leadership: The No-Fads Heart-of-the-Matter Facts you need to know." After thirty years of research and more than one million responses to Kouzes' and Posner's leadership assessment, their ageless work explores the fundamental, enduring truths of leadership. They have found that certain leadership fundamentals get carried over regardless of where you are located in the world or your generational or cultural differences.

Here are the authors' 10 realities of leadership:

  1. You Make a Difference: Before you lead, you have to believe you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe in yourself.
  2. Credibility is the Foundation of Leadership: You have to believe in you, but others have to believe in you, too.
  3. Values Drive Commitment: People want to know what you stand for and believe in.
  4. Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart: The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence in leaders.
    "Leadership is about magnetic communication. Leaders have a way of communicating that draws people toward the vision and the horizon." ~ Doug Firebaugh
  5. You Can't Do It Alone: No leader ever got anything extraordinary done without the talent and support of others.
  6. Trust Rules: Trust is the social glue that holds individuals and groups together.
  7. Challenge Is the Crucible of Greatness: Adversity and change bring you face-to-face with your level of commitment, your grittiness, and your values.
  8. You Either Lead by Example or You Don't Lead at All: You can't ask others to do something you aren't willing to do yourself.
  9. The Best Leaders are the Best Learners: You have to believe that you (and others) can learn to lead and that you can become a better leader tomorrow than they are today.
  10. Leadership is an Affair of the Heart: Leaders are in love with their constituents, their customers and clients, and the mission that they are serving.

When asked: "What's the best way to teach young children how to lead an ethical way of life?," the Dalai Lama answered: "It doesn't matter what you tell them to do. They will watch and imitate you; they will do what you do; and so you are faced with the hardest task of all--to be ethical yourself."


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