Is leadership defined solely by results? Most of the flood of leader literature makes that assumption. Leaders get things done. They win wars, championships, fortune, fame. They cure sick teams, organizations, whole countries. Not by themselves, of course – we followers have a limited role, as foot soldiers, employees, voters, or, as Michael Jordan once memorably described his Chicago Bulls teammates, “my supporting cast.” But the leader is that (usually) charismatic individual who is somehow able to motivate or drive or carry his/her team to achieve an (often) unlikely goal. Conversely, the absence of significant achievement generally signifies a leadership-free environment.
Much of what we think about leadership follows from this original assumption. We think, for example, that the tougher the goal, the greater the leader; our most iconic leaders – the Pattons, the Lombardis, the Iacoccas – were somehow able to achieve the impossible. It is the magnitude of their achievements that make them great leaders, not their methods; who cares, in fact, about their methods, as long as they were able to get something of extraordinary importance done?
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About the Authors
David Esler and Myra Kruger are the authors of the book The Pursuit of Something Better. They combined their 30 years of corporate communication, human resources, and consulting experience into Esler Kruger Associates in 1987. Their consulting firm focuses on culture change, organizational surveys, and executive counsel in effective leadership. Esler and Kruger are based in Highland Park, Illinois.
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