Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday's Food for Thought

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.
- Lao Tzu

There are many leadership quotes that seem cliche. This is one of them. Another version of this is: A leader's job is done when he is no longer needed. Sounds trite, right? Who wants to be obsolete?

Well to be honest, I agree with the quote. Leadership is empowerment, not just of yourself, but of your team. You provide the direction, but the team provides the action (Bushwhackers, from the previous post?). The team should grow and develop under your tutelage, with the end state being that the team will know their jobs and how to do them without your constant direction. In fact, a good leader will make sure that his/her personnel knows not only their own jobs, but also the jobs of the person above and below them. That way, when somebody decides to move on, there is no gap; no matter whether that person is the one who gets coffee for everybody, or maybe the leader himself/herself. In the Army this can be even more critical, when a person is suddenly no longer capable of performing his/her duties while in a combat situation. In Good to Great,  by Jim Collins, this type of leader is a Level 5 Leader (great book, a must read!).

So, then the question for today would be: What have you done today to grow your team? Ask it everyday.

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