24. Thoughts on Leadership

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
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Leadership is something that many want and once they receive it, they find it to be very uncomfortable. It is one of those positions in life that leave one exposed and without a place to hide. It is accepting responsibility of things that went wrong, even if you did not actually participate in it. Therefore, leadership by its very nature is unsettling and problematic.
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A leader is someone who does not ran away from the difficult decisions. When difficult decisions arise, a leader recognizes the weight they bring and seeks counsel from those who have wrestle with a similar matter. A leader knows that after all advice has been given and the facts reviewed, he/she will have to render the final word on the matter.
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On the desk of President Truman was a sign that read, “The buck stops here.” There are many people who attempt to pass responsibilities on to someone else and when things go bad they attempt to pass the blame onto someone else. For a leader, this kind of irresponsibility and dodging is unacceptable. A leader must recognize that they are responsible for everything that happens in their domain, even if they did not do it or say it. Every leader is responsible for the actions of those who they lead and they are accountable for every success and failure within their domain.
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A leader does not have the option of staying out of the business of those whom they lead. A leader understands that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. While a leader is careful not to get into every detail of an individual’s life, they do have a responsibility to be aware of things that can directly affect an individual’s work performance and safety of others. This awareness does not give a leader the privilege of being a counselor or a doctor, but instead a leader should use this awareness to offer information on social services and professional assistance when needed.
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Leadership requires an individual to be aware of their strengths and weakness. Meaning, a leader does not have the skills to perform every job within their domain, but the skills to perform the jobs they were trained to do. Leaders always get in trouble when they attempt to perform tasks they have not been trained to do. Therefore, a leader needs to know what they can do and know who can perform the skills they cannot. By avoiding “being all things to all skills” a leader shows the strength of their character and a willingness to depend on the skills of others.
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Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish Rabbi, denounced authoritarianism and micro-management when he said, “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.” What he is promoting is a servant based form of leadership, a form of leadership that is in the services of others. Jesus practiced what he preached, in addition to his responsibilities as a leader he washed feet, cook food, and took time to listen to the intimate concerns of strangers.
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William Arthur Ward said, “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination. On cooperation, not intimidation.” Today, a wise leader should avoid micro-management of their domain and adopt a form of leadership that is free of authoritarianism and domination. Because when someone closely observes and controls the work of those under his/her leadership it creates a strong boss environment and not a leadership environment. Tight control over others and the work environment is generally unhealthy and does not allow for subordinates to develop a broader understanding of their skills, confidence in expressing their opinions, and a general understanding that mistakes are learning opportunities. It is always a better choice, to choose to be a leader and not a boss.
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The difference between a boss and a leader: A boss says, “Go!” A leader says, “Let’s go!”
E.M. Kelly

Written by Dave Pflueger August 15, 2016 (c) copyrighted by Pflueger

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