31 Questions e-book

I've turned my July series - 31 Questions - into a free, download-able e-book. 31_questions_logo_2

I've added some material to several of the questions, so what you find on the blog could be different than the e-book. You can also download a two page version of just the questions and my 10 Assumptions about leadership.

Over time, I will add more material to this book.  I see it as a work in progress. Your comments and thoughts are welcome.

10 Assumptions: role & responsibility

Leadership is a role within an organizational structure, and a responsibility within its social or relational structure.

The role of leader is job specific. The person of the leader transcends all roles.

When we talk about the responsibilities of leadership, we are referring to those standards of thought and behavior to produce positive influence and beneficial impact. Each person within their role, regardless of whether it is a leadership role or not, can fulfill the responsibilities of leadership by acting in this way.

I think this is an important distinction because I see in the literature of leadership both ideas presented, but rarely in conjunction with one another.  Without the context of role, the responsibilities take on a more superficial role.

Context and character are other ways of understanding the nature of leadership. I'll have more to say about this in the future.

10 Assumptions about leadership

Now that my 31 Questions series for July is now complete, I'm going to do something similar with my 10 Assumptions. However, instead, I'm going to take this one a bit slower.  I'm going to begin to write on each assumption with the intent to discover what we need to understand about each one.

The first posting on role & responsibility will appear on Monday.

31 Questions: servant leadership

30. What is servant leadership?

Servant leadership is an idea first conceived by Robert Greenleaf, and now led by a center in his name.

"The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."

Much has been written on servant leadership, and I encourage you to read and absorb as much of this perspective on leadership as possible.

However, I'd like to place this question in the context of my first four Assumptions about leadership.

1. Leadership is both a role and a responsibility.
2. Leadership is role specific based on position within the organizational structure.
3. Leadership is a responsibility when it is a matter of influence and impact.
4. Leadership occurs in the context of human relationships.

These ideas assume that leadership is much more than an institutional role within an organizational structure. It is not simply a set of tasks and activities that one conducts.

Leadership is much more a product of the character of an individual.  The underlying assumption is that every member of an organization is in a leadership relationship with someone. Each one of us influences someone by our actions. That influence, properly understood, is leadership.

Therefore, servant leadership is a way to understand how to fulfill our leadership responsibility.

What, then, does it mean to serve first within the context of our relationships in business?

The question that rarely gets asked in this context is "Is our business structured - organized - to produce servant leadership? Or, does how we function force people into decisions and actions that encourage self-interest over against action for the greater good.

Servant leadership is not an organizational system.  If it is to make a sustainable difference in your business, you must take the time to look at how you are organized to determine what policies and structures inhibit the development of this leadership practice.

How, then, do business develop servant leadership throughout their business?

Real Life Leadership: Young executive needs to build trust, confidence in his leadership

Today's Real Life Leadership column - Young executive needs to build trust, confidence in his leadership - focuses on how a young person new in a leadership positions establishes the trust and confidence needed to lead the changes necessary for future growth.

I meet people all the time who are in positions of leadership who treat the role as just another task oriented position within the company. Somehow it never occurred to them that being the president of the company is really a differnet position than any other.

If you are in this position, one of your responsibilities is to develop leadership in the rest of your people. I'm not talking about them being president which is a leadership role.  I referring to the reality that leadership is a responsibility that everyone is required to fulfill. 

Look at the 10 Assumptions of leadership that I posted at the beginning of my 31 Questions series. If a company develops the practice of leadership as a responsibility for all to fulfill, you'll also see everyone within the company working hard to develop trust and confidence in one another. If this happens, it cannot help but have a positive impact on how people work together.

To be a young president is to lead people to join you into a future that has yet to be defined. That is the great challenge that we all face.

You can download a hard copy of the column here.

31 Questions: passing leadership down

13. How do leaders pass leadership down through the organization?

One of the most critical weaknesses that I see in organizational leaders is their inability to develop leadership in the people who work for them.

How do you flip the leadership structure of an organization so that leadership rises from the bottom?

What should the senior leadership do on a regular basis to support, equip and enable leadership to be developed in all their employees?

The assumption going back to my 10 Assumptions is that leadership is both a role and a responsibility. As a responsibility, it is everyone's to accept and act on.

So, to put the question in different terms, "How does the senior leadership pass the responsibility for leadership down through the organization?"

10 Assumptions

Tomorrow begins my 31 Questions series.

Today, I am offering 10 Assumptions that I bring to the practice of leadership. 

1. Leadership is both a role and a responsibility.

2. Leadership is role specific based on position within the organizational structure.

3. Leadership is a responsibility when it is a matter of influence and impact.

4. Leadership occurs in the context of human relationships.

5. Leadership is measured by Impact. Impact is the change or difference that comes from decisions made and actions taken.

6. Leadership is everyone’s responsibility.

7. Leadership originates in the act of personal initiative. Initiative is the action that follows a decision to act.

8. Leadership initiative is an action that everyone can take, regardless of role, experience or skill.

9. Leadership development helps people understand how to think, relate and act to make a difference.

10. Leadership can take place within an organizational structure or within an informal relationship of people.