The Extraordinary Leader, Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders, WHAT CAUSES GOOD LEADERS TO BE UNCHALLENGED TO CHANGE (4 through 5)


Authors quotes:

“4. Good leaders often fail to appreciate and understand the differences between good leadership and great leadership.

Too many have remained casual observers of leadership rather than trained judges.  They experience leadership from others and feel the effects (that was great leadership or that was terrible) but lack the insight of how the effect was created or what its longer-lasting consequences will be.

People frequently confuse personality traits for leadership.  They assume that assertiveness, or the ability to make a compelling speech or give people crisp orders, is leadership.  It is not.

In order for people to improve their leadership ability they need to become astute observers of leadership.  They need not only to understand some basic concepts and be reasonably well read, they need to be able to judge everyday interactions and understand what is missing.

5. Many good leaders believe that extraordinary leaders are prodigies, having been endowed with some unusual gifts from birth.  Most recognize that people with exceptional leadership talents exist, but it is difficult for others to understand the path in their development that brought them from being good leaders to being extraordinary leaders.  The bar set to achieve extraordinary leadership seems too high to achieve, and the path to develop extensive skills is not clear.

Most individuals, as they become managers for the first time, go through an intense learning period.  They receive a great deal of training, personal coaching, and are open to ideas and suggestions from experienced managers.  They take time to plan meetings, performance reviews, and how they will give feedback to direct reports.  They also pay close attention to others, watching to understand techniques and skills.  They are practicing leadership with the intent to get better.  Their learning curve is high.  Once they get reasonably competent at being managers they switch from practicing to playing.

Some great leaders are not born with, but acquire at an early age, the desire to make things happen with other people.  We believe that other leaders can acquire increased leadership ability with practice at any age. The real key is that they engage in intense practice.  Bad leaders assume that deliberate practice makes no difference, so they continue to perform, but never improve.

Personal comments:

I had planned to discuss 4 through 6, but it would have been too lengthy.

Personal experience is that none of my leaders understood the difference between good and great.  Most practiced some aspects of great leadership, but none took the time for intense practice, and continued to perform from poor to good.

When the authors took their surveys they discovered subordinates rated their leaders highly, and yet, in this section, they admit that too often personality traits are considered leadership traits.  Observation (behavior, communication, social style) is required to assess leadership ability, beyond personality.  An example of what I am referring to are those who focus on themselves, almost exclusively, and are difficult to be around.

Great leaders do not behave in this manner.  They genuinely show interest in others.

Next: The Extraordinary Leader

Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders


Author: maxbinkley

Creator of Leadership to the Max My experience in the military helped set the career path for me in human resources. After the military I worked for The Dow Chemical Company and left there in 1993 to venture out on my own. I purchased a small business, then a franchise then started another business in semi-retirement.

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