Great Leader, or Pretender?
Leadership is influencing people – by providing purpose, direction and motivation – while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.
US. Army Handbook
This is a good definition of leadership, however I do not entirely agree with the handbook definition. I do not believe that it is a leader’s job to motivate people. They can inspire people, yes, but motivation is internal, not external.
Australian speaker, John Lees, said, “It’s not my job to motivate people. It’s my job to HIRE motivated people.” I agree with John; we motivate ourselves and it’s up to our people to motivate themselves. If they are not motivated sufficiently to want to do a good job, I don’t want them in my company, and I certainly would not want to go into battle with them.
Would you want to be in battle with somebody who was not motivated? You might argue that battle conditions would provide the motivation to survive, but that could take the form of self-preservation. Again, I would not want to be in battle with somebody who put their personal survival ahead of the squad, would you?
The US Army definition of leadership, you will notice, is results-focused. It’s not just about building a team of people, its focus is on bettering the organisation while at the same time accomplishing the mission. A quality team that produces quality results.
To do this, you need a quality leader who develops the team into competent people who get the job done. It is one of the great differences between a great leader and what Edmund Burke calls a “pretender”.
“The great difference between the real leader and the pretender is that the one sees into the future, while the other regards only the present; the one lives by the day, and acts upon expediency; the other acts on enduring principles and for the immortality.”
Great leadership always comes back to vision.
Great leaders want to build great organisations. Pretenders are reactive, regarding only the present as Edmund Burke said, and not looking to the future with a vision of what they want to create.
Scottish-born steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie once suggested that his epitaph read “Here lies a man who was able to surround himself with men far cleverer than himself.”
Great leaders, unlike pretenders, are not intimidated by clever people. Great leaders value skilled, competent people. They are willing to search for the right people to join their teams.
If you want quality results, you need quality people. And you don’t put your head out of your office window and whistle for winners: it takes hard work, over the long term, to find them, develop them and to weed out those who do not fit the team.
Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
Goals, Vision and Results. Words you often hear in discussions about what it takes to be a great leader. You never hear such words associated with pretenders.
Leadership may be about influencing people and providing direction, but you cannot provide these to the wrong people. You need motivated people who love to deliver quality work. Find people like that and you will have the ingredients of a great team. Add to this a great leader and success is inevitable.
Great leaders get this. Pretenders never will.