Good leadership is the result of ‘shared work’, and shared work is achieved through a process of direction, alignment and commitment in an organization. Creating positive leadership is really about these factors, rather than about adopting a set of ideal characteristics. All members of an organization have a role in making leadership happen.
Stepping away from the traditional, overwhelming lists of ideal characteristics for leaders, let’s examine how leadership actually happens. The ‘whole system’ perspective in this Idea, show us that leadership happens in the interactions and exchanges among people with shared work. Specifically, we can highlight three outcomes those interactions should yield: making direction, alignment, and commitment happen. In fact, we might say that the only way to know if leadership has happened is to look for the presence of these three outcomes.
Take the following scenarios:
Discussing the scenarios above, the author makes a number of key points including the following:
Managers have a major responsibility for making leadership happen – a fact that is too often taken for granted. Here are three important strategies for taking hold of that responsibility:
Leadership is shared work; at the end of the day, you can only make it happen with others.
Making Leadership Happen. Cynthia McCauley. Center for Creative Leadership White Paper (May 2011).
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