What is leadership?

February 18, 2009

Few seem to know. Common descriptions include “inspiring others” or “charisma”, but I find those lacking. Peter Drucker said, “Leadership is doing the right things, management is doing things right.” I like that, but what does it mean? I’ve worked with many leaders who do things right, but not the right things.

I don’t think good leaders and good leadership is as sexy as we would like it to be. Jack Welch wasn’t a good leader because of his charisma. He was a good leader because he hired good teams, held them accountable for achieving the right results, gave them useful feedback that could actually improve their performance if heeded, and fired people and re-loaded when he had an underperfomer on the team.

I’ve seen many in leadership roles who try to compensate for their weak team members and teams (especially their buddies), prescribed actions rather defined results (which makes it hard to hold them accountable, “I did what you told me to”), gave insufficient, spotty or poor feedback based on personal feelings or other wrong things and didn’t fire people who clearly should’ve been fired.

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