What Senior Leaders Think of Leadership

By | December 5, 2014

[December 05, 2014] They think it’s pretty darn important. Well, that’s no surprise … but there’s much more to this story, of course. While most senior leaders know a great deal about leadership, there remains neither a clarifying definition nor consensus on the key traits of what makes a great leader (thus my blog). There are, however, components of leadership that no senior leader in their right mind would deny. So, what do senior leaders think of leadership?

Leaders know that all human systems, like government and businesses, are imperfect and thus require responsible and continuous oversight. A common example are marital relationships, everyone knows they are maintained only through hard work, sacrifice, and compromise – working as team. Likewise, organizations that succeed require people working as teams to keep them on track and accomplishing their missions. Senior leaders believe this means providing guidance and help to others who live in those human-made systems. This is done by rallying people to a cause.

The larger the number of people, the trickier this is to do. In the context of volatile, uncertain, complex, or arbitrary conditions in which people operate (in other words “reality”) rallying people is far more difficult (see military writings on the VUCA effect on leaders). This explains why there are so many leadership styles; each going about solving human problems.

There are however enduring things that leaders consider about when discussing leadership:

  • They deeply believe in the value of developing talent in all leaders and are willing to put considerable resources toward that effort.
  • They understand that junior leaders must be carefully developed through mentoring and coaching and are willing put their time and energy into that effort.
  • They are intolerant of ineffective leaders, especially senior leaders who create toxic work environments. The more senior a leader, the less tolerate they are.
  • They devote considerable personal energy into the study of great leadership and push themselves to improve their own skills, even on the margins.
  • They work hard to pull people together and never pit one group of people against another. They recognize that fundamentally the most successful leaders never employ divisiveness as a leader tactic.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan

Leadership means convincing people to do something that they would not normally do. Senior leaders must convince people to come together to achieve a great things and do so in a VUCA environment.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

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