November 2001 - The Essence of Leadership
- The Corporate Mystic
- Principle-Centered Leadership
- The Leadership Challenge
- The Greatest Management Principle in the
- Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun
- The Tao of Leadership
- This Job Should be Fun!
- Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both
- Four Ways to Wisdom
- An Exercise in Personal Leadership
- Resources (links,
books, articles, the
Essence of Leadership
There are many, many theories about what is a "leader" and
the qualities a leader must posses to be successful. In this
month's article, we take a look at the essence of a number of different
theories so that people can decide for themselves what qualities they
want to claim as their own.
Gay Hendricks and Kate Ludeman identify 12 characteristics of
leadership for 21st Century Leaders in their book, The Corporate
- Absolute Honesty. Leaders want to know the
truth even though that truth is sometimes personally painful.
- Fairness. Leaders are fair because they see that at
the core, all of us are equal.
- Self-Knowledge. Leaders are particular concerned
about learning about themselves.
- A Focus on Contribution. Leaders work for
contribution, for the opportunity to serve. Ultimately, they
work for love.
- Non-dogmatic Spirituality. Leaders tend to be
allergic to dogma and often remain at a distance from religion in
its more structured forms. Rather, they attempt to live their
lives from the universal sources of spirituality.
- They Get More Done By Doing Less. Leaders put a great
deal of attention on learning to be in the present — not caught up in
regret about the past or anxiety about the future.
- They Call Forth the Best of Themselves and Others.
Leaders develop a kind of double vision, at once able to see the
mask and the essential person inside.
- Openness to Change. Leaders understand that
everything in the universe is subject to change and everything is
right on schedule.
- A Special Sense of Humor. Leaders laugh a lot.
They are quick to point out the quirks of life and the human animal,
and are quick to include themselves in the joke.
- Keen Distant Vision and Up-Close Focus. Leaders have
the ability to focus on the separateness and the way everything is
- An Unusual Self-Discipline. Leaders are fiercely
disciplined — a discipline born of passion, not
authoritarian discipline driven by fear.
- Balance. Leaders keep their eye on balancing their
lives in four main areas: intimacy (including marriage, family and
close friendship), work, spirituality and community (including
social and political life.)
Leaders use those characteristics as they act through Integrity,
Vision, Intuition, Inspiring Commitment, Communicating
with People, Managing Projects, Creating
Wealth and Discipline.
In addition, they offer Seven Radical Rules for Business Success:
- Always tell the truth.
- Always take 100 percent responsibility for any activity you are
- Scrupulously attend to all agreements you make and others make
- Never gossip and never get in the middle of communications between
- Set aside daily creative think-time and make it sacred.
- Make a to-do list and update it constantly throughout the day.
- Go to the source. Whenever you hear of something that makes
you feel uncomfortable, talk to all parties concerned and listen
carefully to them.
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,
describes the characteristics of principle-centers leaders in this book
- They are constantly learning.
- They are service-oriented.
- They radiate positive energy.
- They believe in other people.
- They lead balanced lives.
- They see life as an adventure.
- They are synergistic.
- They exercise for self-renewal.
In the book, Principle-Centered Leadership, Mr. Covey further
describes 10 Power Tools that leaders use to be powerful:
- Persuasion, which includes sharing reasons and rational and
committing to stay in the communication process until mutually
beneficial and satisfying outcomes are reached.
- Patience with the process and the person.
- Gentleness, not harshness, when dealing with
vulnerabilities, disclosures and feelings of others.
- Teachableness, which means operating with the assumption
that you do not have all the answers and valuing the different
viewpoints, judgments and experiences of others.
- Acceptance, withholding judgment, giving the benefit of the
doubt, requiring no evidence or specific performance as a condition
for sustaining high self-worth, making them your agenda.
- Kindness, sensitive, caring, thoughtful, remembering the
little things (which are the big things) in relationships.
- Openness, acquiring accurate information and perspectives
of others, giving full consideration to their intentions, desires,
values and goals rather than focusing exclusively on their behavior.
- Compassionate confrontation, acknowledging error, mistakes
and the need for others to make "course corrections" in a
context of genuine care, concern and warmth, making it safe for
people to take risks.
- Consistency so that your leadership style is not
manipulative, rather a set of values and a reflection of who you are
and who you are becoming.
- Integrity, honestly matching words and feeling with
thoughts and actions, as well as constantly reviewing your intent as
you strive for congruence.
James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge,
describe 5 practices of leaders:
- Challenging the Process. Leaders are pioneers — people who are willing
to step out into the unknown in order to achieve innovation.
Leaders search out opportunities, experiment and take risks.
- Inspiring a Shared Vision. Leaders see pictures in
their mind's eye of what the results will look like even before they
have started their projects. Leaders envision the future and
- Enabling Others to Act. Exemplary leaders enlist the
support and assistance of all those who must make a project work — it includes peers, superiors,
customers and suppliers — all those who must support the
vision. Leaders foster collaboration and strengthen others.
the Way. Leaders lead by their own example, being a role
model for others to follow, acting in ways that are consistent with
their beliefs. Leaders set the example and plan small wins.
the Heart. Leaders must constantly encourage the heart of
people to carry on by showing them how they can win. Often
this is through positive acknowledgement of the many small things
that people do every day. Leaders recognize contributions and
survey asking about the most admired qualities of leaders shows the
following top 10:
83% (This quality was selected by 83% of the 2,600 managers
Michael LeBeof describes the greatest principle: The
things that get rewarded get done.
He goes on to describe 10 strategies for making this principle into
- Reward solid solutions instead of quick fixes.
- Reward risk-taking instead of risk-avoiding.
- Reward applied creativity instead of mindless conformity.
- Reward decisive action instead of paralysis by analysis.
- Reward smart work instead of busy work.
- Reward simplification instead of needless complication.
- Reward quietly effective behavior instead of squeaking joints.
- Reward quality instead of fast work.
- Reward loyalty instead of turnover.
- Reward working together instead of working against.
Wess Roberts wrote this very non-traditional book and first published
it on his own for friends. It has since became a best seller and a
"must have" book for anyone interested in the subject of
leadership. The leadership qualities described include:
- Loyalty. Disagreement is not necessarily disloyalty
and should be listened to. However, someone who participates
in or encourages action that are counter to the good of the tribe is
- Courage. Leaders must be fearless and have the
fortitude to carry out assignments given to them. They must
not balk at the sight of obstacles nor must they become bewildered
when in the presence of adversity.
- Desire. Leaders must have an inherent commitment to
influencing people, processes and outcomes.
- Emotional Stamina. Leaders must have the stamina to
recover rapidly from disappointment, to bounce back from
discouragement, to carry out the responsibilities of their office
without becoming distorted in their views without losing clear
perspective as well as the emotional strength to persist in the face
of seemingly difficult circumstances.
- Physical stamina. Leaders must nurture their bodies
in order to support a healthy mind.
- Empathy. Leaders must have an appreciation for an d
an understanding of the values of others, a sensitivity for other
cultures, beliefs and traditions.
- Decisiveness. Leaders must know when to act and when
not to act.
- Anticipation. Leaders must observe and use their
instincts to anticipate thoughts, actions and consequences.
- Timing. Leaders often develop a good sense of timing
by applying the lessons learned by failure.
- Competitiveness. Leaders must have an intrinsic
desire to win the important contest, not necessarily win all the
- Self-confidence. Leaders must have a personal feeling
of assurance to meet the inherent challenges of leadership.
- Accountability. Leaders must be accountable for their
personal actions and the people they are responsible for.
- Responsibility. Leaders must accept full
responsibility for their actions.
- Credibility. Leaders' words and actions must be believable
to friend and foe, and must be worth of trust.
- Tenacity. Leaders must have an unyielding drive to
- Dependability. Leaders must be depended upon in all
situations to carry out their roles and responsibilities.
- Stewardship. Leaders must serve in a manner that
encourages confident, trust and loyalty.
Attila reminds us that leaders must teach what they know to
others so that there will continue to be leaders to follow.
Apparently, there was no strong leader following Attila and the Hun
nation was absorbed into greater Europe. The vanity of the princes
and chieftains who jealously sought to succeed him resulted in the
downfall of the nation.
John Heider has adopted Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching for modern
leaders. Just a few of the 81 leadership qualities covered in this
wonderful book include:
- Be Open to Whatever Emerges. The wise leader does not
impose a personal agenda or value system on the group.
- The Paradox of Letting Go. When I let go of what I am, I
become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I
receive what I need.
- Unbiased Leadership. Can you remain open and
receptive, no matter what issues arise? Can you know what is
emerging, yet keep your peace while others discover it for
- Soft and Strong. Water is fluid, soft and
yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and
- The Creative Process. The wise leader knows about
pairs of opposites and their interactions. In order to lead,
the leader knows how to follow.
- Inner Resources. To know how other people behave
takes intelligence, but to myself takes wisdom.
- Knowing What is Happening. When you cannot see what
is happening in a group, do not stare harder. Relax and look
gently with your inner eye.
- Tao is Universal. All power and effectiveness come
from following the law of creation. There is no substitute for
knowing how things happen and for acting accordingly.
- Unclutter Your Mind. Learn to unclutter your mind and
simplify your work.
- The Beginning, the Middle and the End. Once an event
is fully energized and formed, stand back as much as possible.
Pay attention to the natural unfolding of events. Don't do too
much. Don't be too helpful.
Bob Basso's book, This Job Should Be Fun!, is a reminder that
without fun, most of us would rather be somewhere else.
He offers a number of strategies for making sure the workplace has an
appropriate amount of fun:.
- Communication: Walk Your Talk. Declare honesty from
day one. Lay it on the line, say what you mean, mean what you
- Feedback: Form M-I-B Teams. MIB means
"make it better." MIB teams satisfy your need to get
the team to buy into improving everything and their need to take
more control of the decisions that affect their day-to-day work
- Use a Battle Cry: Create Excitement, Start a Raging Fire.
Have the team create a slogan that reflects the team's
commitment. The slogan is like an advertising slogan.
For example, "Stop everything and support the front line
first" or "We try harder."
- Cooperation: Get Action Now! Enlist others by asking
for their help, being responsible and accountable.
- Goal-Setting: The "Hot List." Practice
MBGOOTW (managing by getting out of the way). Identify the top
3 hot (immediate) problems to solve and ask the team to find ways to
solve them, ask for their suggestions, make everybody a consultant
and celebrate their victories in finding solutions.
- Rotation: Exchange Combatants. Rotate employees for a
day into another department, ask for volunteers, ask the rotated
person to share what they learned with their regular team.
- Litigation: Resolve All Conflict in the Boo-Boo Stage.
A recent survey of corporate attorneys reveals that the biggest
culprit in most workplace legal actions is the frontline supervisor.
Therefore, pay more attention to small conflicts and get them
resolved before they become lawsuits.
- Evaluations: Turn the Tables. Use multiple view
evaluations giving employees the chance to evaluate their
supervisors. Ask them for suggestions about how you could do a
- Training: Stick to the Golden Rule. Every morale
problem, communication bottleneck, drop in quality and high rate of
absenteeism can be traced to the closed door of a supervisor who's
never been trained how to get people to do things together. — to talk nicely, think,
listen and have the patience of a saint.
- Workspace: Create a "Green Light" Environment. A
green light means, "Yes, we want you to feel free to open up,
ask questions, take charge, find new ways." A red light
means, "No, we don't want that." High productivity
comes when people are allowed to be productive, take initiative,
develop creative solutions and produce results.
This new book looks at leadership from a 360 viewpoint. The
author, Michael Useem, professor of management at The Wharton
School, provides many detailed case study examples of leaders who
were successful and the various methods they used. He also
describes many examples of people who failed and the reasons why they
Chapters in the book cover the following aspects of leadership:
- Informing your commander.
- Convincing a company to turn inside out.
- Begging your boss to untie your hands.
- Retaining the confidence of your directors and investors.
- Keeping your head when you have several superiors.
- Guiding your guide.
- Designing a future your boss can't quite envision.
- Persuading the ultimate authority
- The upward leader's calling.
Each chapter is filled with practical tips and ways to use the case
studies. This is a powerful book for anyone who leads people,
reports to someone else or has ever felt the frustration of not having
their ideas heard.
Author Angeles Arrien's work is well known for combining ancient
wisdom with today's challenging business problems. Her "four-fold way" is
a reminder that helps us stay powerful and balanced.
- Show up and be present physically, mentally and emotionally.
This is the way of the Warrior, which teaches us to be
visible and empower others through example and intention.
- Pay attention to what has heart and meaning. This is
the way of the Healer archetype, which teaches us to be aware
of and express feelings and emotions.
- Tell the truth without blame or judgment. This is the
way of the Visionary archetype, which teaches us to be honest
and authentic during communication.
- Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome. This is
the way of the Teacher archetype, which teaches us to let go
of expectations and preconceived ideas.
Warren Bennis' now classic book, Leaders, describes leadership as
"heading into the wind with such knowledge of oneself and such
collaborative energy as to move others to follow." He offers
four major strategies after interviewing 90 leaders over a period of two
- Attention Through Vision. "I have a
dream"<Martin Luther King, Jr.> The leader must set
a vision for others to follow.
- Meaning Through Communication. "If you can dream
it, you can do it." <Walt Disney> The
leader's vision must be communicated to the people who can make it
- Trust Through Positioning. The accumulation of trust is a
measure of the legitimacy of leadership; trust is the emotional glue
that binds follows and leaders together.
- The Deployment of Self Through Positive Self-Regard.
Leaders must have persistence and self-knowledge, be willing to take
risks and accept losses, make and honor commitments, be consistent
and willing to learn constantly.
The book closes with this thought. "We must raise the
search for new leadership to a national priority. We desperately
need women and men who can take charge, and we hope that you, the
reader, will be among them. What can be more consequential and
This exercise comes from a Leadership course taught by Anna Joy
Grace, Minister of the Unity Church of Olympia, WA, who adapted it from
an exercise by Dr. Maria Nemeth called "Standards of
- Think about leaders you admire and what makes them special to
- Make a list of 10 leaders you admire. They can be well-known
people or anyone in your life who you feel shows leadership
- Write down 3 qualities that each leader has that you admire.
- Go back over the list and select 7 qualities that you particularly
admire and write them down in a list.
- Acknowledge that those qualities you admire in others are what you
yourself exhibit as a leader. It is because you resonate with them and feel drawn to them that
you admire those qualities in others.
- Think about how you FEEL as you acknowledge the truth of your own
- Make a personal commitment to always walk in the truth of your own
version of leadership rather than trying to fit anyone else's
ideas. This is a very powerful acknowledgement and helps give
you the confidence that true leaders exhibit.
- Disclosure: We get a small
commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.
- Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge. Warren Bennis, Burt Nanus.1985. Harper & Row.
- Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun. Wess Roberts. 1985.
Warner Books ISBN 0-446-39106-9
- Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss so You Both Win, Michael Useem,
2001. Crown Business. ISBN:
0-8129-3310-9 Book excerpts: http://leadership.wharton.upenn.edu/l_change/Leading_Up.shtml
- Principle-Centered Leadership. Stephen Covey . 1990.
Fireside (Simon & Schuster) ISBN 0-671-79280-6
- The Corporate Mystic: A Guidebook For Visionaries With Their Feet on
the Ground. 1996 Gay Hendricks and Kate Ludeman, Bantam Books, New
- The Four Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher,
Healer and Visionary. Angeles Arrien. 1993. HarperCollins ISBN 0-06250-059-7.
- The Greatest Management Principle in the World. Michael Le Boeuf.
G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1985 ISBN 0-399-13052-7
- The Leadership Challenge: How to Get Extraordinary Things Done
in Corporations. James Kouzes, Barry Posner. Original 1987. Third
Edition, 2002. Jossey-Bass
Inc. Publishers ISBN: 0787956783
- The Tao of Leadership: Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New
Age. John Heider. 1985 Humanics Limited. ISBN 0-89334-079-0
- This Job Should Be Fun! The New Profit Strategy for Managing
People in Tough Times. Bob Blasso with Judi Klosek.
iUniverse.com ISBN: 0595141420
Managers are people who do things right. Leaders are people
who do the right thing. ... Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, Leaders.
A throne is only a bench covered with velvet .. Napoleon
Bonaparte, emperor of France
You manage things. You lead people ... Grace Murray
Hopper, U.S. Navy, considered by many to be the "mother of computer
Shallow people believe in luck ... strong believe in cause and
effect. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that
you, too, can become great. ... Mark Twain
I praise loudly, I blame softly. ... Catherine II (The
Great), empress of Russia
Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have
greatness thrust upon them. ... William Shakespeare.
Sandwich every bit of criticism between two heavy layers of praise
... Mary Kay Ash, founder, Mary Kay Cosmetics
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