Lessons About Leadership

The last couple of days have been days of reflection. The school year is done; therefore what went well and what didn’t go so well? I enjoy self-reflection because I like to get lost in my thoughts. I am not going into some alternative life because I am unhappy in this one; it is a thought process I use for trying to become a better leader, teacher, husband, father, and grandfather.

After meeting with someone the other day, I was very disappointed at this person’s lack of learning from events. This person has not been humbled, or has even attempted to become a better person because of these events. This person continues to blame others, and is furious because everything has been taken away from them. This actually made me very sad for this person, and the organization that has been and will continue to be affected by this person in a negative manner.

There are several questions I have been pondering since this meeting. First, what is the reason for leadership? I came to several conclusions. Leadership is about ensuring the organization is performing in an effective manner. This means that a leader does not just continue what has been done in the past, it means questioning what has previously been done why we did it. A non-leader continues with the status quo; a leader asks what and why. Thank you Warren Bennis for that insight.

Although I am very disappointed with this person, there are other people affected by these events. This has led me to my second question, when an organization is in the middle of change, what does a leader do? The answer, become an anchor of hope. The key characteristic of a good leader is the ability to create a guiding vision. A leader has the ability to paint a clear picture that all within the organization can see what the desired end state looks like. However, there can be some very uncomfortable times to get there. Thus, the leader becomes an anchor of hope. The leader continues to remind everyone where the organization is going, and assuring all is ok. However, because the leader is authentic, the words are not platitudes or manipulation, they are heartfelt expressions from a person who believes that integrity is important.

According to Bennis one of the reasons for leadership is the integrity of the organization. Hmm, what the heck does that mean? The definition of integrity is this: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” Can an organization be honest and have strong moral principles? I think it can, especially if it has strong leadership that models these characteristics. This integrity emerges from a strong desire to be an authentic leader. This type of leader is listening to their inner voice. As a Christian I am listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, or at least attempting to keep myself in a place where that voice comes through loud and clear. I have done this by prayer, confession of sin, reading God’s word, reading good books, and having the right mentors. What emerges from these actions is a clear guiding vision for my life. I have tried to take this and apply it to the organization I am now involved with. I want the WPC Business program to be successful, and I want it to produce business leaders in the community that make a difference.

To accomplish these things, our students need to emerge as authentic people. They need to know themselves, while having the ability to self-regulate and have a strong self-concept. They recognize the importance of interpersonal relationships because they all know that good business means good relationships. However, they also recognize they themselves need to be develop and the importance of developing others. This desire for development grows out of a strong sense of thinking and experience.

It is amazing that so many people feel that the leaders in their organizations are doing a poor job; especially with the amount of money that is spent on the subject. The definition of insanity is the continuation of doing the same thing while expecting a different result. It appears we need good leaders to help create better leaders. Who has the guiding vision for this? With all of the books on leadership now, why do we have some many bad leaders? More questions to ponder.

And that is my thought for the day!

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