Thoughts on group leadership

Thoughts on group leadership

Leadership, it’s a fickle beast!

I’ve learned over the past 10+ years that there are several ingredients that make for good leadership, and I’ll do my best to explain them in this post.

First and foremost; a person can be born with “charisma”, but I have a hard time believing a person is a “born leader”. You have to cultivate charisma properly if you want it to become leadership, this just isn’t something that can be acquired naturally.

When I think about leadership, I like to break the primary types down into three categories: Tactical, Strategic, and Empathetic

Tactical Leadership

Tactical leadership revolves around decisions made in the near-term, and rely heavily on the use of politics to achieve the tactical goal.  Being able to compromise and negotiate are major ingredients in tactical leadership, giving something for the return of something else.

Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership revolves around making decisions that affect the “big picture” of the group/organization.  These decisions always require the most amount of time and perpetration, as they can significantly alter the trajectory of you group’s mission.  Strategic leadership requires “out of the box” thinking, and often relies on the application of tactical leadership to achieve a successful outcome.

Empathetic Leadership

Empathetic leadership revolves around being able to put yourself into the shoes of those you lead.  Neither tactical or strategic leadership can work if you don’t have the empathy to understand how it might affect those you lead.  Acknowledging that each person under your charge will be affected by your decisions is fundamental in a group being able to survive over time.  It’s also crucial that you understand the minds of those who would be your enemies, because you can’t beat an enemy you don’t understand…you can only fear them.

Along with the above categories, there are also certain ingredients that are extremely important to making a good or “righteous” leader.

  1. Surround yourself with people who have both knowledge, and wisdom.  Its impossible to know everything, only hubris makes a leader believe all their decisions are right.
  2. Know and accept your own limitations.  Knowing yourself is vital to ensuring you don’t end up in compromising positions.
  3. Practice self-accountability.  A leader who cannot accept their own mistakes and failures will never learn to overcome them, and are doomed to repeat them…if they continue to lead.
  4. Punish, but never persecute.  When it’s necessary to judge someone on their actions, judge them accordingly and move on.  Water only flows under the bridge one way, it doesn’t circle back.
  5. Always hold yourself to a higher standard.  Good leaders always have an inspiring quality, and holding yourself to a higher standard helps create an inspiring presence for others.
  6. Ask of others only what you, yourself, will do.  This one is self explanatory.
  7. Listen more than you speak.  The opinions of others are just as important as your own, not listening to others creates feelings of insignificance within those you lead.
  8. Do not fear measured change.  Change is necessary and part of the sustaining evolution in any group/organization, but make those changes are based on growth and necessity.
  9. Be doubtful in private, stalwart in public.  It’s OK to doubt a decision, but do so in the privacy of your own council.  In public, always keep a commanding presence.
  10. The humble leader is the respected leader.  Its unnecessary to take credit for every idea, lift up others when they’ve done something noteworthy.

There are many more, but these are some of what I feel are the more important points.

Sometimes as a leader, you see where your people have personified the work that you’ve been striving for since the beginning.  When you see that, never loose the opportunity to thank them.  No single person can ever understand what’s in your heart, but when you see it shine through the actions of others, then you have to acknowledge it.  By not doing that, you turn into the tyrant people fear.  You’re a single person who has a dream, but it’s the wings of others who will lift you to realizing it.


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