Leadership is a universal human talent that crosses most human boundaries from volunteer organizations such as churches or associations to more formal situations such as our jobs or the military. Most of us can tell when we are in an organization with good leadership. For me there are several keys.
First, everyone is working more or less toward the same goals. These may conflict, for example winning a championship in sports, which may mean a temporary relaxation of academic goals. However, everyone is aware of the needs and does their best to further the task at hand.
Second, the organization has a spirit of cooperation. By this I mean that conflicts are handled with an underlying attitude of mutual respect for others’ points of view. People work out their differences and go to the boss only when that authority is required for resolution, for example for policy exceptions or for money issues.
Third, good leadership gets results. The goal is reached; the game is won; we made a profit; people were helped; and the list goes on.
I’ve been blessed in my life to belong to several organizations that had good leadership. Church, Rotary, TAPPI, the Army and yes, even work, all from time to time had someone at the top that was gifted & skilled in leadership. Just recently our school went through the every-5-year drill of re-accreditation. Our headmaster had the wisdom to delegate that preparation task to two elementary teachers and then allocated them the time to do it over 7 months. The two teachers could have written the book on how to lead a volunteer organization because they did it right. They were completely inflexible in some areas, like the format for the course outline books, and yet completely flexible in others, like the specifics and priorities for various school improvement plans. And they did it all with a smile. It was a marvel to watch and our pleasure to participate. How many times can you say that about a leadership effort?
I’ve been involved with leadership for over 45 years. In that time one thing stands out concerning good leaders. All of them are students of leadership. They read books or go to school. They continue to improve and hone their skills. This reflects something I read a long time ago, so long I can’t remember the military author. It went something like this: Some people are born with leadership talent and some have to learn it. And then I add my two cents and say: But all have to study the skills necessary to be effective at it.
So here’s to your leadership success story. May you have the pleasure of belonging to organizations with good leaders who focus the task, encourage a spirit of cooperation, and of course win the game.
Go Army – Beat Navy.
Gene Canavan is retired and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA