The world is full of books and articles on leadership. They are written by the leaders themselves, biographers, academics and hacks like you and me. They extol a variety of approaches to the issue of convincing other people to follow a path.
But the books and articles I’ve read all appear to have some common themes that form the foundations of leadership. These themes include:
- Leadership is a fusion of both the heart and the head – great leaders have learnt that although leadership involves analysis, logic and reason, at its heart it is a humanitarian pursuit. So without passion and empathy in combination with logic and reason you will not succeed in the long run.
- Leadership is a learned skill, not a genetic gift – great leaders are not born they earn their stripes through effort and anxiety just like the rest of us
- Leadership takes discipline – great leadership in any pursuit is not easy, it takes strength and discipline and it’s not necessarily the big decisions that require the discipline (they usually present themselves once you have done your homework). It is the myriad of small turns and forks in the road that are encountered each day that test the resolve; those are the decisions that set the example for others to follow.
- Leadership is different for every leader – there is no one formula for leadership success –how can there be? If leadership is about people and each one of us is different how can there be one correct pattern for success.
- All Leaders make mistakes – as Michael Jordon (maybe not a great leader but a fantastic basketballer) said – “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”
Related: Leadership in Mergers & Acquisitions
So am I saying that the multi-billion dollar “leadership industry” is a sham? Not at all. Just because our paths are not identical does not mean that we can’t learn from those who have excelled. To the contrary great leaders are always learning from others and applying the lessons to their own unique circumstances.
Article by Stephen Crowe, Managing Director at Challenge Consulting.