Everyone Should Be a Leader

While we usually think of the leaders in an organization as being “at the top,” no great organization would be what it is without leaders at every level. Whether it’s a mail clerk expediting the delivery of a letter he recognizes as important or a VP going the extra mile to close the next big deal, leadership is important at all levels of an organization.

Being a leader comes down to wanting to make the world a better place, believes Helen Handfield-Jones, independent consultant on leadership and author of The War for Talent. “What does that mean? That sounds grand, but when people apply that idea to their work situations, it means having a vision of how your unit, or you as an individual, can be more effective and creative, go beyond day-to-day requirements, and energize others around that vision.”

The idea that a single, super-talented personality will guide and foster growth in an organization with out the help of others has been idealized in first-world cultures, but is not very realistic.

While it is true that such an outstanding personality can bring a lot to an organization no organization can thrive without team members from the bottom up who are willing to set the example and make it their mission to go beyond the base requirements of their office.

Why Everyone in an Enterprise Can — and Should — Be a Leader

Jody Victor: Alternatives to Directive Leadership

In most cultures today directive or autocratic leadership is considered to be outdated. Directive or autocratic leaders tell subordinates what to do and how to do it and the subordinates are valued for their ability to do things as they are are told to do them.

One issue with this style of leadership is that it is unlikely to maximize the perspectives and talents of each employee or team member. There are several other fairly distinct style of leadership that modern leaders are employing, however.

Consultative leaders seek and value the council of their entire team. While this type of leader is usually still task oriented, by including everyone’s ideas the team has the biggest pool of solutions to choose from when problem solving. A consultative leader is still directive in that they will make a final decisions and therefor stand apart from the team. A good example of this style is a baseball coach consulting with the pitcher and catcher about strategy.

The consultative leader might take their style a step further by becoming a participative leader and put himself on more even ground with his team by working in the group. Participative leaders will still need to be directive at times by moderating the conversation or setting down timelines for decision making. However, final decisions are owned by the group, not by the leader alone.

At the other end of the spectrum from the participative leader, the delegative steps back and allows the team autonomy. Again, this type of leader may to be directive when it comes to logistics, but will be a hands-off mentor figure to the group. Decision making may be owned completely by the team in this type of relationship.

Finally, there are negotiative leaders. This style involves offering incentives to entice his followers towards success. This type of leader is often fairly directive and values his own decision making as a leader. Unlike a fully directive leader, a negotiator often values ends over means, allowing individuals and teams room to try their own ideas. There is a long standing tradition of this style in sales in which sales people or teams receive commissions on sales.

Whatever alternative leadership style one adopts it will be necessary at times for a leader to step in and make some directive decisions, however choosing one of these alternative styles will allow a leader to get the most out of their team.


The Value of Grit

As adults most of are both leaders and followers and regardless of our role we typically desire success for both ourselves and others. And while there have been thousands of studies conducted and many books written on the subject a “formula” to success remains illusive.

Angela Lee Duckworth, former high level consultant turned 7th grade math teacher and psychologist has been studying the idea of “grit” as related to success and has some interesting findings to share in her TEDtalk on education.

While Duckworth’s focus is on education, her findings and implied advice can be useful for anyone wishing to accomplish their goals.

Duckworth left a high level consulting career to become a 7th grade math teacher. In her 7th grade classrooms she noticed that IQ was not the best factor to determine which students in her classes would succeed and fail. She found that those students with “grit” (which she also defines as passion and perseverance) had the highest chances of success regardless of any other factor.

She left teaching to pursue a masters degree in psychology and to study the relevance of “grit” as related to success. She conducted her studies across many walks of life and found that “grit”—passion, perseverance, stamina, hard work, “sticking with your future”—was more important than social intelligence, physical health, good looks and IQ, which are all factors traditional considered to be very important to success.

You can listen to Duckworth’s TEDtalk here:

Leadership Competencies

The Victor crew found an article about Leadership Competencies According to Leaders Around the world. The author asks the question,”What makes an effective leader?” In his first round of the study of 195 leaders in 15 countries, he looked for answers to this question.

In his survey, he asked the participants to rate 74 qualities. He grouped them into five themes and found what rose to the top.
The themes were:
Strong ethics & safety: this theme combined to bring a sense of safety
Self-organizing: this had to do with allowing employees to organize their own time and work
Efficient learning: leaders should encourage learning, allowing trial and error
Nurtures growth: Helping to grow into a next-generation leader and providing opportunities for training
Connection and belonging: create a feeling of succeeding and failing together builds a strong foundation

You can read the full article here:


By now, if you spend any time on the Internet, you’ve heard of TED Talks. But who or what is TED? The Victor crew set out on a fact-finding mission to see what it is all about.

TED is a nonprofit that is devoted to spreading ideas. This is usually done in the form of short 18 minute talks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. The topics range from science to business, to global issues in more than 100 languages. TED started in 1984 as a conference.

There is a separate TEDx Program to help communities, organizations, or individuals to spark conversations in a TED-like manner. These TED events may screen TED Talk videos or have live presenters or both. These are independently coordinated under a free TED license. You must also follow the TEDx Rules in order to call it a TED event.

There is a full library of TED Talks you can listen to. You search by topic, language, or length. You can also listen through their app or through Roku on your TV.

Jody Victor

Good Leadership Habits

Dr. Travis Bradberry, coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, has written an article about the 12 Habits of Exceptional Leaders. He says, “Great leadership is indeed a difficult thing to pin down and understand.” You know a great leader when you encounter one but what makes him effective? He lists 12 essential behaviors that these exceptional leaders rely on.

1. Courage
People like to know the one they are following is courageous.

2. Effective Communication
You need to be a great communicator to effectively manage and inspire people who work for you.

3. Generosity
Great leaders share credit and praise where it is due. They are committed to their followers’ success.

4. Humility
Leaders who show humbleness will jump in and do the dirty work.

5. Self-Awareness
Dr. Bradberry says this is the foundation of emotional intelligence. They have a clear and accurate image of their own strengths and weaknesses.

6. Adherence to the Golden Rule +1
The Golden Rule says to treat others the way you want to be treated. Dr. Bradberry says to take this a step further and treat others the way they would like to be treated. That means learning more about the people you work with.

7. Passion
Passion is contagious. If a leader is enthusiastic, others will be as well.

8. Infectiousness
Not only have a clear vision but a plan to make that vision become a reality.

9. Authenticity
Be honest in everything. Make sure your words and actions align with who you claim to be.

10. Approachability
Welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than your own.

11. Accountability
Back up your followers. Don’t shift blame when facing failure.

12. Sense of Purpose
Understand your purpose and why you’re going there.

Of course you don’t incorporate all of these traits at once but focus on a couple at a time.