Magazine

A Leadership Test, More or Less

Joseph Sciulli

Search Google for the terms “leadership” and “followership,” and the results are just a bit lopsided:

Evidently, there’s a lot more money in leading than following – or at least in writing about it – since leadership references outnumber followership references by a mere 870 to 1!
Perhaps the disparity is rooted deep in the American psyche. Americans are supposed to lead, not follow. From the Pilgrims, to the Founding Fathers, to today’s business world, the premium has always been on leading. “Following” suffers from a bad connotation – sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly (but that’s another article).
So for the 168th million and first time, let’s ask the age-old question: What is it, more or less, that makes a good leader?
One day when he was recovering from chemotherapy, I asked my father that same question: What made him a good leader – a good supervisor?
A strong, tough man who supervised other strong, tough men who built and erected smokestacks, he said it was because he knew more than anybody else and wasn’t afraid to make a decision. That’s good advice, and a good place to start when exploring leadership. But, “Knowledge without justice ought to be called cunning rather than wisdom,” or so said Plato. Those who knew my father said he could talk equally well with people at any level; he cared for the safety of his men, and was respected for his dealings with them.
Using that theme as a springboard, here’s a quick leadership test - more or less. It’s intended to serve as a self-critique for anybody who has to deal with employees, co-workers, customers, vendors, superiors… yes, it’s a self-critique for all of us on the way we treat others – especially when the going gets tough.
A Leadership Test, or Self-Critique
After dealing with you in situations that might be subject to pressure, stress, disagreement, interruption, differences of opinion, etc., do people usually come away feeling:
• more – or less – appreciated as an employee, co-worker, customer, etc.?
• more – or less – that they were treated fairly?
• more – or less – focused on what they need to do?
• more – or less – respected as a person?

OR, do they come away feeling, more or less, ignored, mistreated, confused, angry, frustrated, “dissed” – in short, that they were not respected as a person, employee, customer, etc.?
As we begin 2007, may we all strive to improve our dealings with those whom we’ve been given the privilege – and the challenge – of encountering on a daily basis. That’s a test we all should want to pass, whether we’re leading or following.

Article Abstract from January, 2007




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