Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

What is Leadership?

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From my position as I’ve begun to examine the failure of current leadership theory and practices as they apply to organizations, the terms leaders and leadership are often over used and misapplied labels. Individuals labeled as leaders are often not leaders, but people with personal agendas who pursue them over the goals of the organization or constituency they serve. Many of them bailed out last year, when their organizations crashed down around them, looking out for themselves and their personal welfare, while leaving their employees and company left to fend for themselves.

Secondly, leadership as it is taught and practiced is a mishmash of concepts, theories, and characteristics. Often what is management theory is presented as leadership theory. Many of the leadership books I’ve reviewed are a rehash of the same old thinking. Many are masked as “secrets of leadership.” This is pure nonsense as there are no secrets.

As I examine the leadership characteristics of successful individuals who have been considered leaders, this web can be untangled and understood. From viewed from the practical application, it becomes clear what comprises leadership at various levels. This includes intuitive characteristics, management and leadership skills and successful practices.

Additionally, leadership can be broken into both strategic and tactical leadership. No all leaders are destined to be Generals, CEO’s or the President of the United States. There are many effective leaders, who are sergeants directing their soldiers in combat, managers successfully directing a department or division or individuals serving on the local school board. They are effective at the level they are at.

The strategic leader may be someone like Jack Walsh at GE, Colin Powell or Richard Branson, who are responsible for the direction and management of a large organization. They’ve learned to develop the tactical leaders under their direction to achieve their organizational goals. They demand excellence, responsibility and accountability. They also focus on execution and the successful implementation of their plans. They build trust, develop confidence and inspire others through personal example.

As I continue my research my definition of what leadership is and the elements that constitute it is a moving target. What I am sure of is that what is currently defined as leadership today is flawed and doesn’t fit the bill.

If you would like to learn more about the leadership of the great American leaders, through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2009 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

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