Leadership Definitions LO17942

Richard C. (thejournal@thresholds.com)
Fri, 01 May 1998 07:57:19 -0700

Replying to LO17920 --

thanks, Rol--I enjoyed this posting very much. Yes, I think we are
relatively close in our mental models. A short response to your comments:

> Perhaps the only place where you and I differ is that I believe -- I have
> seen -- that positional power, effective management, and extraordinary
> leadership can occur within one individual. However, perhaps my examples
> do not meet the 'partnership' criteria in the truest sense. I agree with
> you that these characteristics _can_ be mutually exclusive, but I simply
> believe that having power does not exclude one from also being a leader.
> Intuitively, and by experience, this makes no sense to me.

I agree. I've met those who integrate these attributes at times, and I
felt very fortunate to be involved with them.

> In your self-described "diatribe" you make the points that (my
> interpretation) leadership can be -- and often is -- used negatively as
> well as positively. Of course, it is all relative, as the gang member has
> a positive experience of his leadership, even though society at large may
> have a negative experience of it. There is nothing inherent in
> "leadership" any more than in management that makes it necessarily good.
> I am interested if you agree with this point.

yes. It's interesting to note that many "successful" (socially
acceptable) business or political figures were, essentially, gang leaders
who made good. as the saying goes, it's the winner who writes the history

> I am totally unfamiliar with the literature you refer to, but of the
> characteristics you describe: "intelligence, deep knowledge, mastery of
> their discipline, systems thinking, understanding of personal capacity
> (their's and their subordinates'), wisdom, affection, people-skills," I
> would exclude intelligence (at least of the extraordinary, and
> traditional, kind) and people skills as most people understand that
> concept.

to clarify, I was thinking of the several varieties of intelligence--not
least of which is that emotional intelligence that creates an empathic
connection with other people.

> Thank you for the response. I find this conversation enormously helpful.

thanks for the dialog--it's helpful to me as well. Indeed, this thread
ran through my mind as I watched the sea birds floating over Puget Sound
the other evening. Many people will remember the beautiful metaphor
penned by someone that likens leadership to the role of the flight leader
in a flock of geese. I can't find my copy of that article, though I know
it's around here somewhere.

In my part of the world, we live in a major route for the Canadian Goose
migrating from their homes in the far north or south. They fly in a Vee
formation for hundreds of miles each day during their migratory pattern.
The flock, at least the birds that are more than a year old, all know
where they are flying to (though we don't apparently know why, they know
which way to go). The formation's leader doesn't lead the way because of
superior knowledge or vision. He leads because of his strength and
endurance to serve the rest of the flock. The flow of air he creates
around his body provides lift to the two geese closest to him, and each
goose that follows rides on the lift created by the bird in front. It is
the leader that expends the greatest effort to fly in this formation, and
when it tires, the leader slips smoothly into the back of the formation
and another goose moves into the lead. In this instance, leadership is
shared, emergent and vital to the survival of the flock. Interestingly,
according to the article I can't find, it mentions what happens when a
bird falters and must rest while the flock moves on. If I recall
correctly, one or two birds stay with the straggler, in order to escort it
safely along to rejoin the rest of the birds when it regains its strength.

I realize the limitations that metaphors have in their application to
human endeavors. In this case, though, this kind of leadership is very
close to the partnering, serving leadership characteristics which we've
been discussing.

Doc Holloway

"What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think
things are." -Epictetus

Thresholds--developing critical skills for living organizations Richard C. "Doc" Holloway Olympia, WA ICQ# 10849650 Please visit our new website, still at <http://www.thresholds.com/> <mailto:learnshops@thresholds.com>

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