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What your team really wants from you

        posted by , August 22, 2011

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
~ William Shakespeare

Leadership is a rare quality — few people are natural born leaders. The rest of us must build our leadership skills with experience and discipline. The good news is that many great leaders of history weren't naturals — they simply understood what people really want from a leader (the social functionality of leadership).

Leadership is engrained into social psychology and group dynamics. Throughout our evolution (as a species) leadership contributed to our survival — focusing group efforts on common goals and strategies.

Put twelve strangers in a room together for an hour and one person will emerge as the leader. Remove that leader and someone else will emerge as the leader.

In business, leaders are often artificially imposed — hired and promoted for logical reasons that are detached from the social dynamics of leadership. Such leaders will have difficulties leading if they don't fulfil the 3 social functions of a leader:

1. Decision Making

Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader.
~ General George S. Patton

Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control.
~ Tom Landry

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.
~ General Colin Powell

The social duty of a leader is to unify the efforts of the group. A leader must make clear decisions and effectively sell them. When leaders take on the risk and responsibility of decisions they are confirming their social value as leader.

2. Planning and Organization

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

The leader delimits work structures and organizes the group. This includes defining roles, responsibilities, delegations, processes, measurement standards, schedules and rules.

3. Courage

You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
~ Nelson Mandela

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. (speech given the night before his assassination)
~ Martin Luther King Jr

I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse
~ Florence Nightingale

Leadership is more than a privileged benefit — it requires sacrifice. The leader is responsible for both failure and success. Nothing is less inspiring than a spineless leader who disappears in the face of adversity, makes excuses or blames subordinates.

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