I started thinking about leadership when I got my first, national-in-scope job. It was a word that was tossed about our office all the time and I was suspect. No one would ever say what they meant by it. It was, we knew, necessary, important, lacking, and the secret of success.
Out of need, I defined it myself. I haven’t tried to write it down before, so I’ll try to articulate some of it here. Contribute to my mess by writing in comments below!
Leadership includes elements of the following:
1. The best of intentions. These intentions include
- The best interests of those without knowledge, authority, or money to do it for themselves
- Your peers’, coworkers’, and colleagues’ best interest
- Placing a priority on fairness for all
- A dedication to satisfying a noble goal, not egotistical instincts
2. Positive energy.
- Nobody wants to help Debbie Downer realize her vision.
- Nobody wants to help mean people, either.
- It’s other people—not you—who really know if you’re a downer or if you’re mean.
3. Work smarter and harder.
- A platitude: Give everything you can, then give some more. When I’m working for something awesome, this actually motivates me.
- Cure causes, not symptoms. There’s too little talent and energy in the world to waste them fixing symptoms.
- Try to change power structures. Systems of decision makers, policies, and habits of practice have created the world we’re in. If you want to change things, identify who and what they are, and then set out to change them, bit by bit.
- Ask for help. It’s everywhere. But because it’s hard to find the right person to help, we give up on asking. But that’s the work—finding the right person. Once you do that, things get easier. So do that.
4. Make as many people happy as you can; and make as few people sad or angry.
- It’s like being a politician: keep your approval rating higher than your disapproval rating. It’s a good gauge for the quality of your goal, your process, and your rep.
5. Always, always, always seek, expect, and work your butt off for quality.
- The only thing that matters is quality and people’s feelings.
- Suffer fools with patience and compassion, but don’t make any decisions they want you to make.
There’s more to this. Correct me and contribute in the comments below!
No matter what, take comfort in knowing that though it’s hard to articulate what leadership is, you’ll know it when you see it.