In my last blog, I mentioned the need to show leadership to advance the work of your nonprofit and to secure the support you need for ongoing operations. But the word leadership is as loaded and misunderstood as any word thrown around these days; what does it really mean? Exactly what is it that needs to be seen to inspire confidence both internally and externally? What behaviors ARE leadership?
Were Ken Lay or Martha Stewart good leaders? How about some of our presidents?
Les McKeown, President and CEO of Predictable Success has addressed this question straight on: that true leadership is not only slaying the dragons encountered on the journey through the dark forest, but is a series of perceptions and related actions that show, rather than tell, about how you lead. He says that leadership is the assessment of what is right and necessary more than what may be listed on a job description. Leadership is addressing what needs to get done, and doesn’t need lots of people with big titles.
In fact, he lists examples of horrible but high profile leadership and some of their disgraces. He also provides examples of how leadership can be an action taken by someone who may not even be perceived as being in a leadership role. It isn’t necessarily being the biggest or the most visible, but those who can, and do, lead by their actions.
Leadership is not limited to the Corner Office
He quotes some people we automatically consider leaders about how they define leadership, and how empty their definitions can be. Leadership is ongoing, flexible and a process, not a set of standards or arbitrary words. The challenge is to bring what is real to the concept of leadership and what are qualtities we believe to be leadership that can be ineffective at best, and outright dangerous and dishonest, with disastrous consequences at worst.
In this book, Les McKeown provides clear samples and examples of both true and not true leadership efforts. As he lays it out, he offers tremendous clarity that I found I really ‘got’. He presents the ideas in ways with which a situation can be approached to demonstrate what the actual doing of leadership includes. Check it out, I bet you will be glad you did. You can download the first chapter for free: http://doleadbook.com