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  July 15, 2016
Leadership and Other Overused Terms...

 


If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more...then you are a leader.

 
~ John Quincy Adams
 
Many eons ago, I found myself resting on one knee atop a wrestling mat in some dimly lit utility room at the back end of the school’s gymnasium.
 
It was the beginning of the wrestling season early in November and our coach was going over the ground-rules with the team for the upcoming season.  He described the appropriate behavior, the challenge-ladder system, and the dress code.
 
At the end of his talk, he asked the team to nominate their captains for that year.
 
Team captains were typically 2 or 3 senior leaders ...guys who displayed a great work ethic and who helped to start practice at a certain time...regardless of whether the coach was present or not.
 
That year there were actually 14 seniors...all of whom had been wrestling on the team for 4 years...
 
As it so happened...all 14 senior boys (there were no girl wrestlers at that time) were nominated by their peers that afternoon.
 
Seeing that there would be no way to actually choose only 2 or 3 captains without alienating the rest of the boys, the coach made an "executive decision" to rotate the role of captains each week to two of the senior boys.
 
After a few weeks, I began to notice an interesting phenomenon. 
 
Some of the senior boys, while in the role of team captain, took charge and demanded that the rest of the team follow their lead.  Yet on those weeks when they weren’t a designated captain, those same boys offered very little to support to the current captains and in some cases actually undermined the leadership.
 
After about 2 months, it became abundantly clear to the coach and the team...there were those senior boys who had established themselves as true leaders of the team...those who led by example...those who put in the extra work...those who supported whoever was leading the warm-ups in the front of the room...those who especially took time to help the younger wrestlers to try teach them proper techniques instead of just beating up on them...
 
They did all of this regardless of whether or not they were that week’s captain or not.
 
During those few months, I had a chance to witness what true leadership was all about...
 
It wasn’t about having the "captains" title...it wasn’t about having a great win-loss record...or more experience...more seniority...more friends...
 
It was all about putting the team first...holding yourself to a higher standard... doing what it takes to make yourself better and more importantly the team better...
 
Leadership today is a hot topic.
 
To say that there are a lot of opinions on the subject would be an understatement at best.
 
A quick search on Amazon told me that there are currently 30,355 differently titled books available to purchase under the topic of "leadership".
 
If you completely read one of these leadership books every single day of your life...it would take you more than 83 years just to finish the current titles!
 
Some people think that leadership means that you have built a big company...or that you’ve been elected to a public office...or that you have managed to win a lot of sporting contests...or that you’ve amassed a large group of Twitter followers or Facebook likes...
 
Other people like to believe that leaders say profound things...have some sort of innate God-given talent...have a certain degree of fame and/or fortune...and/or accomplish certain feats...
 
Leadership isn’t management...or strategy...or goals setting...or education.
 
Peter Drucker once said that a leader is simply defined as someone who has followers...well if all it took was followers...then Katy Perry would be our greatest leader according to latest Twitter reports...
 
Maybe leaders are simply great visionaries who make dreams realities...there are those who say and believe that people like Steve Jobs and Walt Disney were great leaders for this reason...
 
I would counter that argument with the thought that new inventions and innovations are being created each and every day...these inventors and engineers continue to take their ideas and turn them into reality...but by doing so, it doesn’t necessarily make them leaders.
 
People with power and influence are often said to be great leaders...monarchs, political figures, and titans of industry...but in reality...monarchs are born into their position...political leaders are good at giving speeches and raising money...and there have been many a great company led into bankruptcy under the watch of a supposed great business leader...in most cases, there has been just as many bad leaders in these ranks as good leaders.
 
So if it’s not money, power, visionary ideas, a mass of followers, skills, talents, fame, intelligence and/or education...
 
Then what exactly is this elusive thing called leadership?
 
Leadership is a lot the idea of obscenity described by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in 1964...that is "I know it when I see it"
 
Leadership is a spectrum...
 
It is the standard bearer who will lead the battle charge...it is the general in the rear who creates and executes the battle plan...
 
It is the brash risk-taker...it is the disciplined investor...
 
It is person doing all the talking...it is person who takes time to listen...
 
It is person who influences others...it is the person who others influence...
 
Here are some of the attributes of a leader that I want to follow:
 
It is a person who is happy and joyful...
 
It is a person who is grateful for everything that they have and is not resentful or envious of what they don’t have.
 
It is a person who holds themselves to a high standard and always tries to do right thing with the highest integrity, transparency and honesty.
 
It is a person who wants to make others around them better
 
It is a person who is respectful of themselves and others
 
It is a person who gives freely of themselves...not because the want something in return or are in need of narcissistic attention.
 
It is a person who doesn’t necessarily want followers...but other individuals who desire to join them on the journey
 
It is a person whose primary purpose is to simply make their world a better place.
 
I count myself among the fortunate because I do know several people who possess many of these leadership attributes...many of these people live in quiet obscurity and/or anonymity.
More than likely, these same people don’t think of themselves as anyone’s leader...but I know otherwise...

...because when I look at them...

...I know it when I see it...
 
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where leaders outside our company inspire to be better...

Jim Kalb Jim Kalb President

Email -  jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse


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