“Low-down, dirty good for nothin’…”
I still remember the first time I heard my grandfather deliver his ultimate displeasure with another human being. It was his considered opinion that you could be good at something and still be “good for nothing.” As he saw it there were people who were darn fine farmers, welders, mechanics, truck drivers, hunters, and so on, but if your positive character flag wasn’t flying high, he’d keep his distance.
When it comes right down to it, leadership is influence. Yes, most organizations hold high the tangible metric “results” of the system/process/push and pull, but when it comes to people, the influencers at every level are the true leaders.
For generations there have been debates about the concise definition of leadership. The truth is, it depends. Leadership definitions are dependent on the team, situation, fate, timing, and most certainly upon the width or height of your travails. Additionally, it depends if you are speaking of leadership in the arena of business, military, science, religion, or politics. And, it depends on whether you’re seeking a descriptor of leaders who are edgy or plain-Jane, powerful or powerless, figureheads or headless figures.
You can spend a lifetime learning a skill or skills that will earn you more money, and that is notable. You can spend a minute or two on a dark path and ruin a lifetime of goodwill, and that too is notable. In the midst of those who view the world as clear-cut, black or white, good or evil, here exist some grey areas.
In this blurry arena of grey is where true leaders dwell. There are realities that challenge best-hatched plans, self control, vision, and values—situations where you face hard choices, tough luck, and tough decisions. In these circumstances it is better to be good at something and good for something, as it has been shown time and again that working for the greater good is the most sustaining, gratifying, and, dare we say, fulfilling. Perhaps simply it is best described as the “greater of the goods.”
During your next leadership performance assessment (on yourself or others), stop for a moment and ponder this: @ or 4 — Are you and your team working hard at being both?
It is and has always been the right leadership flag to fly.