Bob and I talk a lot about leadership and what it takes to be a great leader in these pages. While that’s not a surprise for a leadership development group, a note I received from a former leadership student this morning really hit home. That individual sent a thank you for a recent blog post that had a direct impact on a situation he was facing at work. It’s always nice to hear from students; it reaffirms why I do what I do. I occasionally tell folks that my chosen lot in life is to reduce the number of individuals that fall under the heading “Bad Boss” and increase the number falling under the “Good Boss” heading. I guess what I really should say is that it is my wish to aid folks to find and nurture the Great Leader within.
As I look back on my own leadership journey, coming up through the ranks in the Air Force and then in the corporate world, I have to confess that there were times when the Great Leader was buried fairly deep beneath the surface. I’m sure that a search of past subordinates would find those who thought I was solidly in the Bad Boss camp while many others (I hope) would place me among the Good Boss group. Like so many other vocations, there are very few naturally gifted leaders. Those times that I tried to rely solely on my natural gifts as a leader are, in retrospect, the times when I failed the most miserably. However, when I took a more deliberate approach, when I applied lessons learned from past mistakes and developed new leadership skills; those times were the most successful. I see a similar situation with the leadership students I’ve worked with. Those that were in class only for the professional development credits or because their boss told them to attend and took the attitude “teach me if you can” are, to put it nicely, not my favorite students.
When you have nothing to learn you have nothing to improve and are doomed to continue existence as you are. Those perpetual Bad Bosses I’ve known were always “too cool for school”. However, those who treated leadership as a journey of continuous improvement were much more likely to find that Great Leader looking back at them from the mirror. The student I mentioned earlier is certainly well on his way to greatness.
In the coming year, Bob and I are going to place increased emphasis on serving those who aren’t too cool for school. Although we enjoy writing these blogs and will continue to do so, we’d like to focus our energies on those leadership topics of most interest to you. So, please do us a favor? Take a couple of minutes and leave a comment or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers to these two questions:
- What aspects of leadership do you find most challenging? Most rewarding?
- Relating to continuous leadership improvement, what topics would you most like to learn about?
Thanks, we look forward to hearing from you. Until then, be great!
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” – John F. Kennedy