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I don't really start threads often so please bear with me...
Just a quick series of questions first...
How would you define leadership?
What leaders inspired you and why?
What makes someone a great leader?
How important is it for the leader to have a strong sense of self and why?
What advice would you give someone that wants to become a better leader?

The reason why I ask these questions, for those of you in groups, I was wondering who leads your groups and how? How does your group come about of chosing a leader? Also if you are the leader in the group, if god-forbid you fall, can you have full faith that someone else in the group be able to lead your group to survive?

Just some food for thought...
 

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People who others will follow into the fire. People who place the good of others above their own. People who don't follow the crowd but use the brain God gave them to make wise decisions. People who don't seek to lead but are thrust into the job by the people who follow them. People who others trust to do the job right.
 

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Just my two cents; the Army (of which I'm a part of) defines "Leadership" as:

"The Army defines leadership as influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization." (AR 600-100 Army Leadership)

I've seen "leaders" over the past 20 years of my Army career...some good, some not so good and some great. Those that I respect the most have been the ones that gain respect by example. Rank automatically gives a person authority but it doesn't always equate to a "leader". If you look at that definition above, you could easily put in your most evil person in history and it would fit (i.e. Hitler). I've seen a lot of young Soldiers who exhibited exceptional leadership skills...but nothing was positive and they were poison in the unit (think of a gang leader).

Boy, they have graduate level classes on what makes someone a great leader and if you ask around you'll get many different answers. What I consider traits indicative of a good leader.

Integrity (doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking)
Honesty
Leads by Example
Listens to subordinates or other group members
Can handle constructive criticism
Truly care for the welfare of those they lead
Loyal
Gives respect and dignity
They take responsibility for their own actions as well as their subordinates
Willing to learn and willing to allow subordinates to make mistakes
They have patience
Understands acceptable risk
Is competent, adaptive and decisive
Can handle stress
Makes the hard right decision over the easy wrong decision
Willing to make sacrifices, starting with themselves
Believes the Team and Mission are higher priorities than them self
A true leader doesn't fear being disliked, but they can't lead by fear.

How important is it for the leader to have a strong sense of self and why?
If you're not confident in your own abilities and decisions, who would follow you? How could you lead if you don't even know the direction you need to be going?

What advice would you give someone that wants to become a better leader?
A good leader is a good manager; however a good manager doesn't always equate to being good leader. You can take classes on management which helps, but leadership requires experience. Reading a few books on great leaders will give you some insight, but you have to be willing to volunteer for a leadership role in the community. You have to be able to deal with simple and complex problems; make decision under stress, organize and motivate. It could be as simple as a kids' soccer or tee-ball team; community organizer (yeah, that sounds bad politically :xeye:); run for a local town office, teachers aid/parent volunteer; volunteer to teach a Sunday School class. The best leaders use their seasoned judgment...even a brand new Second Lieutenant has authority by virtue of rank and they are looked to as a "leader", but if rules and regulations didn't keep Soldiers in line about the only way they would follow that 2LT would be out of sheer curiosity :D: Methods and techniques of leadership can be taught, but only through experience and putting yourself in tough positions will you learn about yourself and how to lead others to get jobs or missions accomplished while not compromising your integrity and those you lead know you truly care about their welfare.

Leading isn't easy; never has been, never will be. The Army isn't a democracy even though we give our lives to protect it. Democracy isn't leadership though, but you have the good fortune to set leader term limits, probationary periods or even remove on a vote of the majority. There's a reason many small communities and churches have elders as their board members or in key leadership positions; they know what bad decisions can do to an organization, they know how to make hard decisions, they see the consequences of their actions.

Just a few of my personal thoughts...I'm sure it's as clear as mud:eek::

ROCK6
 

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For me, the essentials of leadership are that a leader looks at all available information, evaluates it, makes decisions based on what the goals and capabilities of the team are, formulates a plan in consultation with the teammates, communicates the plan, and then oversees the execution of the plan. After the execution, the leader evaluates how well the planned action went, and thinks about changes that can be made prior to the next execution of a plan (e..g, he or she learns form their mistakes!). The leader takes care to think about both short term and long term goals, and how they influence each other.

Simple, really! :thumb:

Prime examples of leaders are Churchill (master of planning, delegation and communication, despite being a drunk!), Eisenhauer (a pragmatist and a realist, not a great communicator, but he got the job done and was senstivie to political considerations) and Kennedy (had a clear vision that he communicated effectively, not great on tactics but always had the big picture in mind and a good delegator).

HippieSurvivalist
 

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How would you define leadership?
When you lead people, those people are looking to you for guidance through, in our case, troubled times and from location to another in many cases. You do not rule by power, intimidation or fear of any kind. You lead because others personally trust you or have elected you to lead them.

What leaders inspired you and why?
Most of our founding fathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln and General George S. Patton are all of my favorite leaders that I look to for examples. Patton could see through issues to get right to the heart of something. All the other men had common sense and use deliberation to form our nation. Lincoln managed to keep the nation together instead of letting it get torn apart. Strong men with great mental capacities.

What makes someone a great leader?
Personality, forethought, intelligence and the ability to speak and motivate people. They all interlock for the good of a group. Without intelligence, a person can not have forethought. Without forethought you can't understand the issues that allow you to move or motivate people in the right direction. If you don't have a good personality, no matter how bright you are nobody will follow you anywhere. So all this stuff comes together to form a single package in a leader that other people like and respect.

How important is it for the leader to have a strong sense of self and why?
This one is kind of a vague question that can be taken several different ways. I'm going to give it a try anyway. I don't think that a person has "got to ooze a strong sense of self." A good leader knows who he is and what he's done or is capable of doing. Other people also know that their leader, either by natural selection or popular vote, is capable of leading. The sense of self comes together in a person as a part of the overall package for a leader. It's an automatic issue of development caused by prior events, schooling, experience and choices in the past. A good example might be kids in school. Most kids, all through their school years, have fears and character problems that many grow out of or fight to eliminate. But there is a small percentage of people whom never do outgrow their problems or fears. What is amazing is to the see the transitions later on many years later. One kid who was always afraid outgrows his fear of fighting to become a lightweight champion boxer. Another kid afraid of heights outgrows his fear to become a skydiver, pilot or tight rope walker. So a sense of self is internally developed over the years as people mature, learn and do things. Other people pick up or hear about people with their sense of self and learn to respect them or even help them grow. Think of King Arthur and his relationship with Merlin. Merlin was the teacher, guru or mentor in their case.

What advice would you give someone that wants to become a better leader?
Study past leaders, learn how they worked and memorize what they said. Learn quotations from the speeches of the great men. Analyze what they did and study several different view points about their lives. For example, Alexander the Great was thought to have been an epileptic, a great military leader, a man who may have seen UFOs, could have been a homosexual and so on. Nobody knows for sure because Alexander is not around to defend himself from issues that he dislikes or we were wrong about in our estimation of him. Another thing to remember is that SOME great men are only actually so-called great men. It is not unusual for great me to surround themselves with other men who have great intelligence and then claim the work of those other great men as their own. A good example is military leaders. Many generals have hovering about them smart younger men who actually come up with plans for combat, invasions and so on. The generals let those men do the hard work and then claim it as theirs. This is a very common event in military circles and with politicians. You probably wonder why this goes on or is allowed to occur? The truth is responsibility. A great man knows that if a plan goes bust then no matter who actually developed the plan the great man will get the blame associated with failure. Great men often take responsibility for something, like a defeat or failed policy, that somebody else actually developed. So for a great man responsibility rests heavier on their shoulders than it does for Joe Average. If Joe goofs up nobody notices because he's not the leader. If a leader goofs up then people often die or suffer because of a bad guess or bad judgment.
 

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I think one of the big problems with leadership is this-

If your "tough" with people then your considered a tyrant.

If your "slack" with people then your a pushover.

One of the most important things IMO, is getting people to take the INITIATIVE. They should NOT be standing around waiting for the leader to tell them what to do. Initiative.

Sure sometimes that means effort may go just a bit in the wrong direction, but it will sometimes even with clear communications. Also there's something to be said about getting moving.

I think Swartzkoff (sp) had a quote similar to this after the first Gulf War regarding taking the initiative. To the point that changes can be made while in progress but it was necessary for action to be started.

This goes with our families also. If you call your wife on your way home from work and say "Honey we will have jet now!" Do you come home to find her standing at the door with a confused look on her face? Or do you come home to find her and your kids packing up? Just that little difference could mean life and death.

The sad thing is that some Americans have been so conditioned for years that teaching them to take the initiative is next to impossible.

Lowdown3
 
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