Friday, December 7, 2012

The Paradox of Leadership

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.
Harvey S. Firestone

I don't know much about Mr. Firestone. Certainly his company is a household name. But this quote is a good one.

In most organizations, as many of us have experienced, leadership is all about the leader. The leader becomes preoccupied with ensuring that there is no one who can easily replace him. They need to look good to their board, their peers and their old boy network. I say him because it usually is. Leaders also ensure that they get the credit for all the good things that happen. Their inappropriate bonuses and salaries depend on it. They blame and punish everyone else for their own mistakes, even if they've ignored the good advice of others.

They also refuse to look at anything that might be going wrong; a lost major client, employee exodus, accounting irregularities, unless a regulator intervenes or a law suit is imminent. They want to hear that everything is rosy, and that their subordinates will just take care of the problems because of the "if I don't know about it, I can't be responsible for it attitude". Thankfully regulation and legislation now prevent them from this escape route.

People in leadership positions everywhere, whether you are a small business owner, in the clergy, a teacher, a politician or an executive, you are only a true leader when you are helping the people you are responsible for develop and grow. All of them--not just the ones that kiss your butt. That is your only job. Focus on it and the other things you worry about will take care of themselves... unless, of course, your boss is not a true leader.

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