Should those interested in leadership take each article as gospel? Is leadership really a matter of remembering all the keys in each article? In my view – yes and no. Here’s why –
Leadership is a complicated matter. I know this based on a research paper I’m writing on the topic that requires me to research the history of leadership from the caveman days until now (not really since I’m not sure the cavemen documented any of their lessons learned, but you get the picture). That research covered a lot of ground to include The Bass Handbook of Leadership, a 1516 page book that weighs 5.2 pounds. Although I’m inspired to list all the books and papers I’ve read on the subject, let’s just agree that there are a lot of views on leadership (one of the reasons leadership is not easy).
One of the principals I gathered on leadership involves three components – the leader, the followers, and the environment in which they operate. Changing one of these components may require changes in the other two. For example, a chief of a fire brigade may take the “command and control” approach during an emergency situation as he or she should. In this instance, there is little time or room for discussing the preferred approach to fighting a fire – the environment demands a very structured approach to leading and following. Once the situation is over and the brigade is back in the fire house, the leadership approach may be a softer and the followers more able to offer suggestions.
The entire idea of leadership is to inspire others (followers) to achieve desired organizational goals. The leader may or may not be the person in the formal leadership position – he or she may be an influential person within the group. My point here is leadership depends on influencing the behavior of others within a given environment, which in many cases is dynamic and ever-changing. So, can you as a leader depend on just 7 keys to leadership, or 5? And if so, which 7 or 5 are best suited to your followers and/or your environment?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these articles have no value – each article covers important topics. My point is to realize the context in which you work and see how they apply. In your circumstance 7 key points may hit the mark, or maybe tomorrow’s article will cover the 5 key attributes you really need. Or maybe you really need to carry the Bass Handbook around for a while (I hope not). In any case, keep your eyes and mind open since leadership is not a simple talent than can be boiled down to just a few key things.
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...And, feel free to send me comments or questions.