In 150 to 200 words, write a work journal about how the below readings chapter have made you aware of examples of the leadership information at your place of work or in an organization in which you are a member.
It’s Not Just About You People constantly ask us, â€œHow do you define leadership?â€ Although we have our definition, before responding we usually turn the question back to the audience and ask, â€œWhat do you think is the simplest answer to that question? What’s the easiest way to know if someone is a leader or not?â€
Invariably, the answer we get is some version of this: â€œThey have followers.â€ That’s the aha moment. It is followers who define whether someone is a leader. There can’t be any leaders if there aren’t any followers. If you are marching forward toward a future destination and you turn around and notice that no one is there, then you’re just out for a stroll. Leadership is fundamentally a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who would choose to follow, and if no one is following you, then there’s no relationship there. There’s nothing that connects what you see to what they want. This is true regardless of whether that relationship is one to one or one to many.
Don’t get hung up about being the leader. Even though Alan Daddow, at that time, was the person in charge at Elders Pastoral in Western Australia, he understood that his â€œresponsibility was doing whatever I could to maximize the team’s effectiveness.â€ Repeatedly, upon reflecting on their personal-best leadership experiences, people appreciated that it â€œwasn’t about me; it was about us.â€ As Sunil Menon, research and development (R&D) director with Avaya, pointed out, â€œLeaders know that they need partners to make extraordinary things happen. They invest actively and heavily in building trustworthy relationships.â€ Like Alan and Sunil, you need to appreciate that success can be achieved only if you make everyone else in the organization successful at doing what they need to accomplish. People won’t follow you for very long, if at all, if your message is â€œI want you to help me become successful.â€ They will follow you when your message is â€œI am here to help us all be successful in serving a common cause.â€
Appreciating that leadership doesn’t happen without having followers is humbling. It’s a reminder that leadership is not all about you, the leader. It’s not only about your vision or about your values. Leadership is about shared vision and values. It’s about getting everyone aligned with a common purpose, a common cause.
The impact of this reciprocal relationship is quite profound. Would it surprise you to know that when people don’t feel valued and appreciated by their manager or supervisor, they are more than four times more likely to look for another job compared with those who report strong relationships with their managers? Alternatively, does it surprise you to know that most managers fail in their careers because of poor relationships with their direct reports?
Of course, no relationship can begin until people start talking and sharing information with one another; and someone has to go first in this process. You should be the one to go first in sharing yourself with others because that helps build trust. But nothing extraordinary happens if no one is willing to go second or third and so on.
You Have to See What Others See
In his famous speech during the August 28, 1963, Great March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. exclaimed, â€œI have a dream.â€ This dream involved images of the future: â€œOn the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.â€ â€œOne day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.â€ â€œWhen we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands . . .â€
He also said, â€œThis is our hope,â€ and exclaimed that the dream would not be realized unless â€œWe are willing to work together, we are willing to struggle together, to go to jail together.â€3 Those gathered at the Lincoln Memorial that day cheered Dr. King’s message not merely because he was a dynamic speaker. They cheered and applauded because they could relate to the dream as their own. It was their hopes and aspirations he was speaking about, not just his own. They could see what he saw because he could see what they imagined.
Although you need to be clear about your vision and values, you must also be attentive to those around you. If you can’t find alignment between what you care about and what others care about, then you won’t find a common purpose or achieve much success. Almost no one likes being told, â€œHere is where we’re going, so get on board with itâ€â€”no matter how dressed up it is in all kinds of fine and fancy language. They want you to be able to hear what they have to say, and they want to see themselves in the picture that you are painting. â€œWhat’s in it for me?â€ is a fair and reasonable question.
This means that to become the best leader you can be, you have to know deep down what others want and need. You have to understand their hopes, their dreams, their needs, and their interests. You have to know your constituents, and you have to relate to them in ways they will find engaging.
In your leadership journal make a list of your key relationships. Include your team members, your manager, important internal and external customers, peers you often collaborate with, and anyone else with whom you are interdependent. If the list is too long, start with people with whom you have the most frequent contact. For each individual, ask yourself:
What are the values that this person holds dear?
What are his or her standards?
What re his or her future hopes and aspirations?
What is the higher-order purpose that gives this person’s work and life meaning?
What makes you happy (or sad, frustrated, angry, etc.)? What qualifies you for this job? What have you done in the past?
What are the common themes in the responses that give you clues about a possible shared vision that unites everyone?