Leading Questions about Leadership
Here is a brief but very clever excerpt from a new book by Teri and Mike Gamble, Leading with Communication (Sage, 2013).
What is leadership? Who is a leader? Do you have what it takes to be a leader? Though questions like these are asked over and over again, many of us remain confused about leadership’s nature and our own potential for leadership. For example, where do you stand when it comes to answering this question: Can we all exercise leadership, or is it reserved only for those “special” persons at an organization’s top?
Because of our society’s “culture of celebrity” many of us regard leaders as being special people—extremely attractive, charismatic, and personable individuals who others find themselves attracted to and decide to follow. Such a perception makes Ashton Kutcher and Lady Gaga leaders. After all, millions of people have chosen to follow each of them on Twitter. We need only point to the number of citizens who vote for candidates they believe are good looking and who they would like to be friends with rather than supporting various candidates because they approve of their policies and believe they will change things for the better as proof of the culture of celebrity in action.
Focusing on just an individual, however, while ignoring the social process of leadership can blind us to the roles we play. While one person may possess the formal authority and even pretend to know all the answers, many people need to contribute leadership if the formal leader and his or her followers and organization are to succeed. Thus, leadership depends on communication and interaction between leaders and followers. So, do you want others just to follow you, or are you ready to work with them to help drive change? We hope you choose the latter.
Focus on the big picture
Consider options and consequences
Work collaboratively to shape the future
If you answer yes to each of these questions, you are up to the challenges exercising leadership presents!