Positive leadership isn’t the same thing as “soft” leadership

Sometime, when people are urged to take a positive approach to leadership, there is some push-back. Some people seem to equate “positivity” with being super-nice, but being kind is much deeper than a spewing of empty compliments like “good job” or “nice work” or “super!”

You can’t be too kind. But, you can be too soft. That is the difference, and I’ll admit that I have had trouble sometimes helping folks understand the difference. I just read Good to Great and have taken quite a liking to Jim Collins’s phrase “rigorous, not ruthless.” This is the message for leaders who would like to be positive. In fact, participants in Group Dynamic workshops are often trained in the art of “behavior –> outcome” statements. (Covered in an earlier post). This focus on behavior, and the high standards of the organization, can be done in a way that is positive, not negative. In a way that is rigorous, not ruthless.

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Effective Leaders have Vision, but what IS “Vision”?!

Many people believe that leaders carry the inherent characteristic of being “visionary”. This is true, but the concept of vision is “out there”, esoteric, and can be hard to grasp.

So, how can you “teach” vision? Aren’t visionary leaders somehow “special” in that regard?

(If you’ve been part of a Group Dynamic leadership workshop, forgive this content. This is an exercise that you’ve already done, so it may be redundant for you, but feel free to pass this on to someone who you think needs it!)

OK, let’s make this concept of vision easier, more concrete, more actionable, and more “learn-able”.

First, a working definition of “vision” as it applies to leaders:

Read moreEffective Leaders have Vision, but what IS “Vision”?!

Effective Leaders Pause and Listen

This morning, I read an article in T+D by Nance Guilmartin about the importance of cultivating humility in an organization’s leaders.

She poses a great question:

“What don’t I know I don’t know?”

Putting the needs of others first, and acting in support of your organization are key elements of servant leadership. That’s basic.

But there can be an arrogance there, too. You can assume that you know what is needed – because you’re the leader, and you ought to know.

This is what Peter Block refers to as a paternalistic view of leadership — “taking care” of people who “don’t know better” as opposed to a true commitment to learning what is needed.

Example:

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