1. Expect the best
2. Prepare for the worst
An over simplified summation of leadership would look something like this, “to inspire others, build trust, and create a shared vision that motivates others to move with you; True leadership is not built on a position of authority, hierarchy or coercion, but is focused on tasks and the other person’s growth.”
My older brother was very good at war games. He had a box-spring mattress fort, set in the middle of an open field. His was the most-fortified and well-stocked. He also had the best ammo; horse manure, three separate piles, fresh, day old, and one super hard. Of course all the kids wanted to be on his side.
Saturday afternoons in the summer after cartoons, we kids anxiously expected the best in our field equine wars, but were always shocked when we got hit with the worst. One particular day after putting up a mighty battle, covered with manure juice, I sat down with my mind free of clouded emotion, and I realized my brother’s fatal error. I realized that he would not personally inspire his young sycophants to achieve their personal best. And, although he was a character, he lacked humility. Kids had to be coerced or intimidated into performing or he would pulverize them.
And that is when I took my leadership to the next level. I became tactical. I realized that although he had some of the elements of a leader, he created a shared vision to annihilate the opposition, he was not interested in them as individuals.
I had a plan to win all of them over. I expected the best, and I set up a nurse’s station, made cookies, and offered a new shared vision, that of working out horse rides from the owner in exchange for raking up manure. But, I was prepared for the worst and equipped my fort with very, very long water hoses. Any injured kid could come to my fort, get their wounds attended to, get fed and protected. It was not long before they mutinied him and he was outnumbered.
Although I did not know it at the time I had influenced this group of individuals to reach a common goal. I offered some kind of change or progress, unlike the more self-centered focus on which was only about the exercise of power.
The bottom line is this, adults attach names to common sense ideas like in the book by Ralph Stogdill, “An encyclopedic study of leadership: a survey of theory and research”
But most of real quality leadership is simply reaching into your own soul and knowing that others want to be treated the way you want to be treated. Your ability to understand your preferences, as well as those of others with whom you work or live can substantially enhance your ability to lead effectively.