Leaders exist at all levels of an organization. From the newest interns to the most seasoned executives, leaders can be identified by their drive, their passion and their willingness to take responsibility. But sometimes a leader needs to be unearthed, provided with opportunity and given the support to express their “inner leader”. Others may have leadership thrust upon them. In fact, there are many conditions which create leaders — and we each have our own leadership story marked by various turning points in our careers — where we have dared and won or dared and lost — but learning all the while.
But the one common feature of all leaders is that they create their own village around them. To lead, one must have followers and supporters — and in return the leader must inspire, or as Anna Farmery suggests:
The role of leaders is to work with their teams to bring meaning to part of their lives…by bringing meaning you create a culture in which engagement can flourish.
Consider your own position for a moment. Think about your village and the people who look to you for support, encouragement, direction and vision. Are you a sensemaker? What three things have you done recently to create meaning? Ask yourself the following:
- Clarity: Have you established clear and present goals? Are the supporting tasks well-defined and easy to understand?
- Meaningful: Are you doing as Anna Farmery suggests — creating a meaningful context in which your team can operate? If not, change course.
- Opportunity: Are you providing opportunities and challenges for your teams? Are you supporting and driving them towards success?
Finally, take the time to acknowledge your village and the crucial role they play.
And in the spirit of acknowledgment, let me congratulate Wally Bock on having his Three Star Leadership Blog being recognized as one of the “Top 100 Management and Leadership Blogs That All Managers Should Bookmark“. Wally has been a strong supporter of this blog and I appreciate his insight and advice. This recognition by HR World is well deserved!
Nina Nets It Out: Leaders are responsible for setting the context in which their teams operate. Bringing vision and meaning to those in your village will yield impressive results on all fronts.
I’m glad you bring up the question of what leaders are doing for their followers. I’m sure meaning numbers among the contributions leaders make though I think sometimes it gets oversold. Joseph Campbell said it is not the meaning of life that we’re after, but the experience of life. Thank goodness though, that someone is asking not just what it is that makes a leader, but what makes followers want to follow.
Thanks for your comment. Indeed, without followers, can someone really consider themselves a leader? I wrote a piece back in March called “To Lead or Not to Lead” [http://ninasimosko.com/blog/2008/03/04/to-lead-or-not-to-lead/] in which I discussed what really is a leader. I think you might enjoy this piece given your comment here. Let me know! 🙂