Recent events have called into question the qualifications for leaders. Is a college degree necessary? Business experience? Military Service? Do we want to consider requiring a basic knowledge of human anatomy and physiology?
If we stacked every book ever written about leadership one atop the other, we’d have an impressive stack of opinion and myth. Sure, there are factual accounts of successful leadership strategies and proven methodologies. It’s important to note that while leadership qualities outnumber stars in the sky, what truly makes an effective leader has less to do with a person’s qualifications and more to do with their willingness to listen and their ability to respond appropriately to what they hear.
Lesson One: When you don’t know what you’re talking about, shut up.
Leadership style is a personal preference based on knowledge and experience. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to stick to the subject of admirable leaders and not infamous ones. History is loaded with examples of both and we are all aware of who falls into which category. Some leaders prefer to collaborate, some to delegate. Again, I’m not going to acknowledge
dicks dictators due to my lack of interest in narcissists.
Lesson Two: Don’t piss off smart women; they just might tell the truth about you.
Situational leadership means exactly what it sounds like; a leadership style that adjusts depending on the situation. Take parenting for example, the most fundamental leadership role, most situations are great for collaboration. Like choosing a family pet. Some are best delegated; like cleaning up dog poop.
Lesson Three: No job is unimportant, but show up early so you get first choice.
In the larger arena of a corporate environment, good leaders know how to surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are. This requires a great degree of self-awareness as well as trust. Two things corporate leaders are famous for, right? If these qualities have been cultivated throughout a person’s life, say by thoughtful parents and teachers, it stands to reason that they will be better equipped to assess risks and resolve conflicts before they cause a full-blown economic meltdown.
Of course, there are many contributing factors to consider when it comes to civic leadership. Economic indicators, weather patterns, public health and safety, social convention, Twitter, unflattering stereotypes, old football injuries, erectile dysfu, hemorrhoids, vampires, fear monger support group scheduling conflicts.
Some would say that building relationships is the hallmark of leadership. It is important to recognize the efforts of everyone and give credit where credit is due. Equally as important, is having the confidence to say, “NO.” Grasping the nuances of the English language can also come in handy.
Lesson Four: Know your limitations or prepare to become a punchline.
Taking responsibility for one’s decisions is a sign of a good leader. Leadership is instinctual; it is also learned. Leadership is personal, and yet transparent. Leaders sometimes fail, and when they do, they know that accountability is part of the package. I believe that just as soon I as we think we’ve come full circle on the education of a leader, we discover there is still much to learn, and to that end we should keep working toward the return of elevated public discourse. We deserve nothing less from each other.
Lesson Five: Accept no substitutes.