Sunday, January 15, 2006

What does it mean to lead?

One of my required courses this semester is on Educational Leadership. Needless to say, we have piles of reading to do. On the bright side, there are only 3 students in this seminar class and my two class mates are brilliant, I think. So, I'm thoroughly looking forward to it.

And it has gotten me pondering leadership again... deeply.

A few years back, I took part in a program called
Leadership Calgary. I was part of the class of 2004. That experience shaped many of my ideas about leadership, community and what it means to care about both. I was immersed in the concepts of transformational leadership. Now, I find myself reading more and different things about leadership and what it means… in terms of a job, a vocation, a person… a life.

I’m interested in your thoughts on this topic, as well as your favorite books, movies, etc. Which leaders have inspired (or enraged) you the most? Why? Is it possible for anyone to be a leader? If so… when and how?

Looking forward to some good discussion on this one...


CM said...

I live in the United States, and you have to ask me which "leaders" enrage me most??!! Don't even get me started...

I think the so called "leader" of this country is prime example of everything a leader should NOT be.

I think the leaders that inspire me most are those who are not wildly public, not those who were elected to positions of leadership in which they are clearly expected to lead. Rather, I am inspired by those who take charge of something, a movement, a project, a community initiative, whatever, and they see it through with confidence, aplomb, and grace, and those who can admit their mistakes but continue to lead as best they can to get a job done. One doesn't have to be a household name to be a good leader. I think one of the most important qualities of any leader is the ability to recognize skills in their team members and let them exercise those skills, and always providing positive feedback to those who do things well.

Just a few thoughts, but, must get back to work.

Elliot said...

A leader is a person who has a vision and subsequently has the ablity (that is, the charisma, smarts, or influence)to encourage people to work together with the purpose of seeing that vision come to light.

This can be a positive or negative thing, as our history books prove.

Not everyone can be a leader of others. Not because they don't have the ability, but because they may have goals that they'd rather not involve a group in which to accomplish.

The leaders I most admire are those who simply lead by example, without any designs on leadership. They just Do and Be, and they Do and Be so well and so naturally that others are inspired to find what in themselves will allow them to Do and Be just like them.

Turtle Guy said...

Can anyone be a leader? Absolutely. Leadership is a skill, and it can be learned. A really GOOD leader may have a naturally occuring gift within them that "polishes" their learned skill.

Another thought: leading by example. Have you ever observed someone just being themselves and felt so strongly about how they handled a situation or conducted themselves that you've felt "led" by their actions?

zouzou said...

I've gots lotsa books/ articles fer ya. Have a gander at Margaret Wheatley's stuff on leadership - she's amazing.

Steph said...

I remember once we were dancing barefoot, a sort of dance I didn't know (I don't know any dance that doesn't involve jumping wildly up and down, alone, in my living room, lights off, and the Sex Pistols or The Pogues ripping my loudspeakers apart). So she took the lead and showed me how it's done. She was the leader. She still is. But she won't dance with me any more (too many broken toenails, or other parts, I guess :-) )

I know it's not much of a contribution to your topic, but that's all I can say about leadership right now.

robtherunner said...

I think a leader can lead in many ways whether it be by their own actions, or by bringing out the best in others. I tend to follow those who "do" rather than "say". I prefer action to words.

M A F said...

I agree with several of the comments found here. I am always motivated by those that lead by example, or a hands on approach.

I'd like to believe that everyone has it within themselves to be leaders. It seems that most people have a tendency to be followers. An example would be the saying, 90 pecent bitch and only 10 percent do.

For what it is worth, a good leader is also one that knows what it takes to have others follow. Be they leaders of the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

kt said...

first...on a side note, from the FIRST paragraph of your post: you said there are 3 students, you think the OTHER 2 are brilliant? well, my dear sarah, i am quite sure they think the same of you. i know i do. if you were in MY class, i GUARANTEE i'd be in YOUR small group for discussions, projects, etc. i'd prob be like a leech! ugh!

now, want a different view of leadership? well, when you signed up as MY friend, that's whatchya got, sister! I'm a Christian. the greatest leader of all time was Jesus. He got down on peoples' level and spoke w/ them, lived w/ them, taught them, forgave them, encouraged them, directed them, LOVED them...and ultimately died for them...and cool thing: HE DID IT FOR ALL MANKIND for ALL TIME. So WE can experience those things too.

I think God, coming to earth, in human form, was THE BEST way to lead by example, don't you think?

for what it's worth to YOU...=)

ANOTHER thing: I am so thankful we have a president IN AMERICA like GEORGE W. BUSH! what a difference from the non-leadership we've HAD in the recent past! i KNOW i don't have to spell THAT one out!

madcapmum said...

Some people seem born to be leaders of others, politically or religiously. And there certainly seem to be a lot of born followers. As the mother of one of the born leaders, I find myself wondering a lot about the ethics of leading people, whether it's justifiable. In my universe, the right thing to do would be to encourage decision making by individuals, rather than acting on their behalf.

I don't really know about this. Is my ambivalence showing? I hate being told what to do, and I don't like to see others being herded either. And yet I recognize that it would be almost impossible to function societally without leadership in place.

Rambling, sorry.