Many business texts are written on the
subject of leadership. In
his book entitled, Learning to Lead, Jay A. Conger
provides a general definition, leaders are “…individuals
who establish direction for a working group of individuals,
who gain commitment from these group members to this
direction, and who then motivate these members to achieve the
direction’s outcome,” Furthermore, he states that,
“leaders must understand the needs and values of their
potential followers,” (Conger, 1992).
Jim Collins gives us a more personal look at the qualities
that define good leadership.
His book, From Good to Great, is based on
research conducted on companies that seem to have transformed
from mediocrity to utter greatness.
Leadership was a critical factor.
The source of their success was “through a
paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional
will,” (Collins, 2001).
This description contrasts greatly with the larger than
life personalities we associate with leaders.
For Covey, having a strong system of
values is the most important element of good leadership.
In his book, Principle-Centered Leadership,
Stephen R. Covey explains that, “individuals are more
effective and organizations more empowered when they are
guided and governed by these proven principles“.
(Covey, 1991) Another comment from Conger seems
to pull of these theories together.
He emphasizes the importance of willingness to lead in
defining good leadership.
Yes, one can be highly persuasive, humble and live your
life by certain values – but you must want to lead if you
wish to be followed.
While I find the findings of these
authors valuable, I prefer a simpler description of what it
takes to be a good leader. By definition, the leader is
out in front. The good leader can see what is around the
bend. It is all about being aware of strengths and
weaknesses -- those that characterize your industry, your
company, your people and the strengths and weaknesses that
define you. This is the knowledge that allows you to see
what lies around the bend. This is Conscious Leadership.