[December 19, 2015] … to be a great leader. A commander of mine a few years ago often developed new ideas, many of which were rarely acted upon. Innovative, creative, and intelligent leaders are rare and they play an important role, but it takes more than good ideas for a person to demonstrate great leadership that must be demonstrated consistently through strength of character.
My commander was smart, articulate, and experienced. His ideas were very good but he lacked one critical element – the ability to push it through to completion. Of course, to demonstrate great leadership requires a person to be honest, reliable, and loyal. Respect for others, humility, integrity, and moral courage are also necessary and have been written about often here in theLeaderMaker.com. My commander had these traits and more.
But there is something more that’s needed other than good ideas. Many a leader have failed with high levels of success, often dramatically and with extreme consequences, when they have not been able to design and execute a plan to carry through their ideas. In addition, great leaders are consistent; they are able to surround themselves with smart people to assist and are able to rally others to help them carry out those ideas.
In the military we call leaders who have ideas “good idea fairies”1 … those who come up with many ideas but are unable to turn those ideas into reality. These are people who give us loads of good ideas, sometimes at the last minute and after other ideas are being worked and socialized to all stakeholders. Too many military staff officers were like this.
A good place to find good idea fairies is among politicians. They talk about solving matters of great importance and may even make firm promises but rarely are there results to show. They are quick to blame others and chance circumstances for their ideas not being implemented. Nevertheless the epitome of a great leader is someone who produces results and there is no other proper measure.
My commander was well liked by our superior officers but he was never made the rank everyone thought he deserved. Perhaps someone smart knew that he was just a good idea fairy. The next time someone has good ideas, the real test on whether they are truly a great leader is whether they can carry out through to their intended outcome.
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