Starting with the book I’ve been reading on how special forces (i.e. Green Beret) officers are made to the usual in-fighting among the politicians in Washington to just the general observations I see on a daily basis – I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the concept of leadership lately. Or perhaps, the lack thereof.
From managers and politicians to athletes and parents – there just seems to be a major epidemic in this country where morals have disappeared and common sense is foreign.And keep in mind, “leadership” doesn’t always equate to “management”. Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean being higher in an organizational pyramid or in a position of control. It’s not always about influence and having the loudest voice. I think a lot of it comes down to doing the right thing, for the right reason and being the best person possible.
The Blame Game
First and foremost, we all need to stop pointing fingers at others. This happens in Washington, in businesses and on main street. I’m sick of the Republican party saying that Obama isn’t showing leadership while at the same time, the Democrats are blaming the conservatives for the lack of progress in government. True leaders don’t lead by putting others down. Real leadership isn’t achieved by squashing the opposition.
Placing blame is akin to making excuses. It’s weak and unproductive.
Secondly, consider the almighty ego. You know: the typical me-me-me attitude that seems so prevalent in this country. Listen to interviews of politicians or talks from managers or sound-bites from athletes and almost immediately it’s clear what’s important: themselves or something else. It reminds me of something that happened last year in sports.
In his 2013 post-game, Stanley Cup winning press conference, Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews said the word “we” 14 times. He never said “I”. That same year after winning the NBA championship, Lebron James, in his post-game speech, continually referred to himself and said “I” or “me” 18 times. Not once did he say “we”.
This certainly doesn’t mean that Lebron James isn’t a leader – he most certainly is – but I think it also sheds some light on his character and ultimately his effectiveness as a leader.
Off the top of my head I can only think of two times where “I” should take precedence over “we”. One is during a job interview and the other is when standing up and accepting blame. I’m sure there are others (maybe in a personal blog, for instance), but for now that’s what I’ve got.
So what are the traits of a good leader? Loyal, accountable, team-oriented, adaptable, objective, responsible, knowledgeable. What else? Understanding, truthful, confident, mentor, empathetic… All leaders are different in their own ways (even Lebron James) but look at those people who are considered leaders and I’m sure all of them can be described using most, if not all, of those terms.
After 471 words I can already see a few people asking, “So what?” There has to be a point to all of this, right?
I don’t know, maybe there isn’t. It’s been said that leaders aren’t made, they’re born. But I don’t believe that. Everyone has those same qualities inside of them and all of us have the ability to lead by example; with our words and actions.
Maybe it’s a matter of asking yourself: would you follow you?