Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is a great leader?”

In many workshops I invite responses to this question. “What is a great leader?”
The responses I have heard continue to intrigue me. The term leadership has many definitions and qualities. Recently I came upon this quote “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do what you want done because he wants to do it” by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

It reminded me of a supervisor I worked for many years ago when I worked as a correctional officer in a secure custody young offender facility. This leader had an amazing ability to inspire staff to “get the job done”, even the tasks we did not particularly enjoy. How did he do this? He connected us with the big picture, ensured that we all knew the role we played in corporate goals, and in changing lives. He ensured that we were accountable, to ourselves, our team and the clients.

He believed that there were many paths to completing a task and allowed us some freedom for creativity and testing out new approaches. He did not micro manage, rather, he checked in with us frequently for us to tell him what we are learning, how we have overcome challenges, and how our approach made a difference.

Those who wanted to be micromanaged didn’t last long in his unit. Those who stayed went on to make big differences in the lives of others, and in doing so, grew a great deal!
What a great leader? My response is “his name is Jon!”

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