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Old Thursday, August 06, 2009
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Learning About Leadership

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"Learning About Leadership" is adapted from Patrol and Troop Leadership, the handbook on leadership development written for Patrol Leaders and published by the Boy Scouts of America in 1972.
Why Leadership?

In most football teams the quarterback is the team leader. Why is that? Is there something magic about the position? Does he automatically become the leader -- the guy who makes the team go -- when he is named quarterback by the coach?

No, there's more to it than that. Lots more. Usually he is named quarterback because he's already a leader. He's already the kind of guy the other players like to follow.

And if the coach is wrong about him, he probably won't stay quarterback very long. If he can't lead the team, he won't have much value even if he can hit a receiver at 40 yards. Because every successful team must have a leader.

That goes for your Scouting team, too -- your patrol and your troop. In fact, if the patrol and troop are to succeed, you need several leaders. Guys like yourself who want to try "quarterbacking" in Scouting. One of the aims of your local council Junior Leader Training Conference is to show you how to become a better leader.

Let's begin by being honest about it. This handbook is not going to make you a good leader. You are not going to find 5 or 10 simple rules to follow to become a good leader. If leadership were as easy as that, almost everyone would be a good leader. And you know that most people are not.

There are no rules for leadership. But there are certain skills that every good leader seems to have. You learned about them at your local council Junior Leader Training Conference and have practiced some of them in your troop at home.

Some of these skills you may already have even without knowing it. That's the funny thing about leadership -- a good leader doesn't necessarily know how he does it. He just does what comes naturally and the others follow him. Although he may not know it, he has mastered the skills of leadership.

This doesn't mean we guarantee that you'll be elected student council president next year. Or that you will be the Super Bowl quarterback 15 years from now or President of the United States in 35 years. But we do guarantee that you can make yourself a much better leader in just a few weeks or months.

What Is Leadership?

Leadership is a process of getting things done through people. The quarterback moves the team toward a touchdown. The senior patrol leader guides the troop to a high rating at the camporee. The mayor gets the people to support new policies to make the city better.

These leaders are getting things done by working through people -- football players, Scouts, and ordinary citizens. They have used the process of leadership to reach certain goals.

Leadership is not a science. So being a leader is an adventure because you can never be sure whether you will reach your goal -- at least this time. The touchdown drive may end in a fumble. The troop may have a bad weekend during the camporee. Or the city's citizens may not be convinced that the mayor's policies are right. So these leaders have to try again, using other methods. But they still use the same process the process of good leadership.

Leadership means responsibility. It's adventure and often fun, but it always means responsibility. The leader is the guy the others look to to get the job done. So don't think your job as a troop leader or a staff member will be just an honor. It's more than that. It means that the other Scouts expect you to take the responsibility of getting the job done. If you lead, they will do the job. If you don't, they may expect you to do the job all by yourself.

That's why it's important that you begin right now to learn what leadership is all about.

Wear your badge of office proudly. It does not automatically make you a good leader. But it identifies you as a Scout who others want to follow -- if you'll let them by showing leadership.

You are not a finished leader. No one ever is, not even a president or prime minister. But you are an explorer of the human mind because now you are going to try to learn how to get things done through people. This is one of the keys to leadership.

You are searching for the secrets of leadership. Many of them lie locked inside you. As you discover them and practice them, you will join a special group of people-skilled leaders.

Good exploring -- both in this handbook and with the groups you will have a chance to lead.

The Tasks of Leadership


In this section, we will consider several common statements about the people who serve in leadership positions throughout our world. After you have read the statement, decide for yourself whether you feel it is true or false and why you think it is.

Here is the first one. True or false?

The only people who lead have some kind of leadership job, such as chairman, coach, or king.

Do you think that's true? Don't you believe it. It's true that chairmen, coaches, and kings lead, but people who hold no leadership position also lead. And you can find some people who have a leader's title and ought to lead. But they don't.

In other words, you are not a leader because you wear the leader's hat. Or because you wear the patrol leader's insignia on your uniform. You are a leader only when you are getting things done through other people.

Leadership, then, is something people do. Some people inherit leadership positions, such as kings, or nobles, or heads of family businesses. Some are elected: chairman, governor, patrol leader. Some are appointed, such as a coach, a city manager, or a den chief. Or they may just happen to be there when a situation arises that demands leadership. A disaster occurs, or a teacher doesn't show up when class begins, or a patrol leader becomes sick on a campout.

Try this statement. Is it true or false?

Leadership is a gift. If you are born with it, you can lead. If you are not, you can't.

Some people will tell you that. Some really believe it. But it's not so.

Leadership does take skill. Not everyone can learn all the skills of leadership as well as anyone else. But most people can learn some of them -- and thus develop their own potential.

You don't have to be born with leadership. Chances are, you weren't. But you were born with a brain. If you can learn to swim or play checkers or do math, you can learn leadership skills.

How about this statement. True or false?

"Leader" is another word for "boss."

Well, what do you mean by "boss"? A guy who pushes and orders other people around? No, a leader is not one of those. (But some people try to lead this way.)

Or do you mean a boss is somebody who has a job to do and works with other people to get it done? This is true. A leader is a boss in that sense.

True or false?

Being a leader in a Scout troop is like being a leader anywhere else.

This one is true. When you lead in a Scout troop, you will do many of the same things as any leader anywhere.

The important thing now is Scouting gives you a chance to lead. You can learn how to lead in Scouting. You can practice leadership in Scouting. Then you can lead other groups, too. The skills you will need are very much the same.

What Does a Leader Deal with?

Every leader deals with just two things. Here they are: the job and the group.

The job is what's to be done. The "job" doesn't necessarily mean work. It could be playing a game. It could be building a skyscraper. It could be getting across an idea.

A leader is needed to get the job done. If there were no job, there would be no need for a leader.

The group, such as a patrol, is the people who do the job. And in many cases, the group continues after the job is done. This is where leading gets tough, as you'll see later.

Think about this situation. Mark has a lot of firewood to split. There he is, all alone with his ax. He's got a job to do. Is he a leader?

We have to say in this situation that Mark won't be leading. Why? No group. There's nobody on the job but Mark.

Here's another example. Danny and three of his friends are on their bikes. They have no place to go. They're just riding slowly, seeing how close they can get to each other.

Is Danny -- or any one of the others -- a leader?

From what we know, we have to say no. Why? No job. There's a group of friends, but nothing special to be done. You don't need a leader for that. (You don't need a group, either.)

The Job of a Leader

A leader works with two things: a job and a group. You can always tell when a leader succeeds, because:

1. The job gets done.

2. The group holds together.

Let's see why it takes both.

Frank was elected patrol leader. That same week, the patrol had a job cleaning up an old cemetery.

It was Frank's first leadership position, and he wanted it to go right. In his daydream he could see the Scoutmaster praising him for the great cleanup job. So when Saturday morning came, Frank and the patrol went over to the cemetery, and Frank started to get the job done.

He hollered. He yelled. He threatened. He called them names. He worked like a tiger himself. It was a rough day, but the cemetery got cleaned up.

Frank went home sort of proud, sort of mad, and very tired.

"How'd things go, Frank?" the Scoutmaster asked a few days later.

"Good."

"No problems?"

"No." Frank wondered what he meant by that.

"Oh! Well, a couple of the boys in your patrol asked me if they could change to another patrol. I thought maybe something had gone wrong...."

And that was how Frank learned that getting the job done isn't all there is to leadership. He had really given the group a hard time, and now they wanted to break up.

Almost anybody with a whip and a mean temper can get a job done. But in doing it, they usually destroy the group. And that's not leadership. The group must go on.

Another new patrol leader called a meeting at his house. Everybody seemed to be hungry when they came. So they got some snacks from the kitchen. Then they tossed a football around. It began to get dark, and one by one they went home. Everybody had fun. But the patrol meeting -- the job -- never started.

One of the following statements is the message of this section. Which one?

a. Nice guys finish last.

b. Mean guys finish last.

c. Leaders get the job done and keep the group going.

d. Leaders have a special title or badge that makes others like to follow.

We'll take the third one. Will you?

What Affects Leadership?


Leadership is not magic that comes out of a leader's head. It's skill. The leader learns how to get the job done and still keep the group together.

Does this mean that the leader does the same things in every situation? No. Here's why.

Leadership differs with the leader, the group, and the situation.

Leaders -- like other people are all different. No leader can take over another leader's job and do it the same way.

Groups are different, too. A great football coach might have difficulty leading an orchestra. A good sergeant might be a poor Scoutmaster. So when a leader changes groups, he changes the way he leads.

Situations differ, too. The same leader with the same group must change with conditions. A fellow leading a group discussion needs to change his style of leadership when a fire breaks out. As a Scout leader, you probably can't lead the group in the rain the same as you do in the sunshine.

An effective leader, then, must be alert at all times to the reaction of the members of the group; the conditions in which he may find himself; and be aware of his own abilities and reactions.
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Old Friday, August 07, 2009
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Default Leadership - Character and Traits

Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. - Warren Bennis, Ph.D. On Becoming a Leader

Building Excellence

Leaders do not command excellence, they build excellence. Excellence is "being all you can be" within the bounds of doing what is right for your organization. To reach excellence you must first be a leader of good character. You must do everything you are supposed to do. Organizations will not achieve excellence by figuring out where it wants to go, then having leaders do whatever they have to in order to get the job done, and then hope their leaders acted with good character. This type of thinking is backwards. Pursuing excellence should not be confused with accomplishing a job or task. When you do planning, you do it by backwards planning. But you do not achieve excellence by backwards planning. Excellence starts with leaders of good and strong character who engage in the entire process of leadership. And the first process is being a person of honorable character.
Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one. - Marcus Aurelius

Character develops over time. Many think that much of a person's character is formed early in life. However, we do not know exactly how much or how early character develops. But, it is safe to claim that character does not change quickly. A person's observable behavior is an indication of her character. This behavior can be strong or weak, good or bad. A person with strong character shows drive, energy, determination, self-discipline, willpower, and nerve. She sees what she wants and goes after it. She attracts followers. On the other hand, a person with weak character shows none of these traits. She does not know what she wants. Her traits are disorganized, she vacillates and is inconsistent. She will attract no followers.
A strong person can be good or bad. A gang leader is an example of a strong person with a bad character, while an outstanding community leader is one with both strong and good characteristics. An organization needs leaders with both strong and good characteristics, people who will guide them to the future and show that they can be trusted. Courage - not complacency - is our need today. Leadership not salesmanship. - John F. Kennedy

To be an effective leader, your followers must have trust in you and they need to be sold on your vision. Korn-Ferry International, an executive search company, performed a survey on what organizations want from their leaders. The respondents said they wanted people who were both ethical and who convey a strong vision of the future. In any organization, a leader's actions set the pace. This behavior wins trust, loyalty, and ensures the organization's continued vitality. One of the ways to build trust is to display a good sense of character composed of beliefs, values, skills, and traits:
Beliefs are what we hold dear to us and are rooted deeply within us. They could be assumptions or convictions that you hold true regarding people, concepts, or things. They could be the beliefs about life, death, religion, what is good, what is bad, what is human nature, etc.
Values are attitudes about the worth of people, concepts, or things. For example, you might value a good car, home, friendship, personal comfort, or relatives. Values are important as they influence a person's behavior to weigh the importance of alternatives. For example, you might value friends more than privacy, while others might be the opposite.
Skills are the knowledge and abilities that a person gains throughout life. The ability to learn a new skill varies with each individual. Some skills come almost naturally, while others come only by complete devotion to study and practice.
Traits are distinguishing qualities or characteristics of a person, while character is the sum total of these traits. There are hundreds of personality traits, far too many to be discussed here. Instead, we will focus on a few that are crucial for a leader. The more of these you display as a leader, the more your followers will believe and trust in you. Traits of a Good Leader

Compiled by the Santa Clara University and the Tom Peters Group:
  • Honest - Display sincerity, integrity, and candor in all your actions. Deceptive behavior will not inspire trust.
  • Competent - Base your actions on reason and moral principles. Do not make decisions based on childlike emotional desires or feelings.
  • Forward-looking - Set goals and have a vision of the future. The vision must be owned throughout the organization. Effective leaders envision what they want and how to get it. They habitually pick priorities stemming from their basic values.
  • Inspiring - Display confidence in all that you do. By showing endurance in mental, physical, and spiritual stamina, you will inspire others to reach for new heights. Take charge when necessary.
  • Intelligent - Read, study, and seek challenging assignments.
  • Fair-minded - Show fair treatment to all people. Prejudice is the enemy of justice. Display empathy by being sensitive to the feelings, values, interests, and well-being of others.
  • Broad-minded - Seek out diversity.
  • Courageous - Have the perseverance to accomplish a goal, regardless of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Display a confident calmness when under stress.
  • Straightforward - Use sound judgment to make a good decisions at the right time.
  • Imaginative - Make timely and appropriate changes in your thinking, plans, and methods. Show creativity by thinking of new and better goals, ideas, and solutions to problems. Be innovative!
Retreat Hell! We've just got here! - Attributed to several World War I Marine Corps officers, Belleau Wood, June 1918. (key ideal - take a stand)

Attributes

Attributes establish what leaders are, and every leader needs at least three of them: Standard Bearers establish the ethical framework within an organization. This demands a commitment to live and defend the climate and culture that you want to permeate your organization. What you set as an example will soon become the rule as unlike knowledge, ethical behavior is learned more by observing than by listening. And in fast moving situations, examples become certainty. Being a standard bearer creates trust and openness in your employees, who in turn, fulfill your visions. Developers help others learn through teaching, training, and coaching. This creates an exciting place to work and learn. Never miss an opportunity to teach or learn something new yourself. Coaching suggests someone who cares enough to get involved by encouraging and developing others who are less experienced. Employees who work for developers know that they can take risks, learn by making mistakes, and winning in the end. Integrators orchestrate the many activities that take place throughout an organization by providing a view of the future and the ability to obtain it. Success can only be achieved when there is a unity of effort. Integrators have a sixth sense about where problems will occur and make their presence felt during critical times. They know that their employees do their best when they are left to work within a vision-based framework. Goddam it, you will never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me! - Captain Henry P. "Jim" Crowe, USMC, Guadalcanal, 13 January 1943. (key words - follow me, NOT "go")

Perspectives of Character and Traits

Traits (acronym - JJ did tie buckle)
  • Justice
  • Judgment
  • Dependability
  • Initiative
  • Decisiveness
  • Tact
  • Integrity
  • Enthusiasm
  • Bearing
  • Unselfishness
  • Courage
  • Knowledge
  • Loyalty
  • Endurance
The Image of Leadership - John Schoolland

What kind of a leader are you going to be - the kind who thinks he is the best?
Or will you be one of the very few greats
Who attributes success to the rest.

The U.S. Army's Eleven Leadership Principles

- Be tactically and technically proficient
- Know yourself and seek self-improvement
- Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare
- Keep your soldiers informed
- Set the example
- Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished
- Train your soldiers as a team
- Make sound and timely decisions
- Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates
- Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities
- Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions


Organizations consist of three components:
  1. The structure gives the organization its form and dictates the way it will interact.
  2. The followers respond to the structure and the leaders.
  3. The leaders determine the ultimate effectiveness of the organization as the character and skills that they bring determine the way problems are solved and tasks are accomplished.
U.S. Army 23 Traits of Character
  • Bearing
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Integrity
  • Decisiveness
  • Justice
  • Endurance
  • Tact
  • Initiative
  • Coolness
  • Maturity
  • Improvement
  • Will
  • Assertiveness
  • Candor
  • Sense of humor
  • Competence
  • Commitment
  • Creativity
  • Self-discipline
  • Humility
  • Flexibility
  • Empathy/Compassion
More Thoughts on Character

Are managers leaders? Are leaders managers?

Managers need to be leaders ... their workers need vision and guidance! On the other hand, leaders need to be good managers of the resources entrusted to them. Is Character Developed Via Nature or Nurture?

I do not believe that the nature vs. nurture debate is linear enough to put percentages on it -- on one side of the fence we have nature and on the other side we have nurture. And while nature (genes) certainly has its influences on us, the environment (nurture) normally determines the impact of a gene.

For example, one of the classic examples for discussing genes is Konrad Lorenz's work on the imprinting that occurs in baby geese -- they have it within them to imprint whatever is moving near them, which is normally their mother. However, it could be anything else that is moving around them, such as a person. But no matter what they imprint on, rather it be their mother, a human, or an inanimate object, the piece of the environment that they actually imprint on is going to have a huge impact on their life. Thus genes provide the goal, but the environment provides the process. And it is what happens during the process that will determine the outcome.
Piaget was probably the first person to think of children as species equipped with a characteristic mind, rather than as apprentice adults (little adults). He discovered they went through a series of five developmental stages that were always in the same order, but not always at the same rate: 1) sensorimotor, 2) preoperational, 3) concrete operations, and in adolescence they have 3) abstract thought and finally 4) deductive reasoning.
Piaget's two contemporaries, Konrad Lorenz and B.F. Skinner took up extreme positions. Lorenz as a champion of nature and Skinner as a champion of nurture. Piaget, however, dived right down the middle of this debate. He believed a gene's meaning depends heavily on its context with the surrounding environment. That is, while a child goes through five stages of development (genes), it is the active engagement of the mind with the surrounding environment (nurture) that causes development. The two main forces of the environment are feedback and social interaction. From this, the child assimilates predicted experiences and accommodates it to unexpected experiences.
For some time it was believed that animals grew no new neurons in the cortex of their brains upon reaching adulthood, thus their fate was basically sealed by their genetic nature. This was apparently proved by a Pasco Rakic, a neuroscientist. However, Fernando Nottebohm soon found that adult canaries made new neurons when they learn new songs. So Rakic replied that it was only adult mammals that could not grow neurons. But soon afterward, Elizabeth Gould found that rats grow new neurons. So Rakic replied primates could not. Gould next discovered that tree shrews grew new neurons. Rakic that higher primates could not grow new neurons. Gould then found them in marmosets. Rakic zeroed it down to old-world primates. Gould then discovered them in macaques.
Today it is almost certain that all primates, including humans, grow new neurons in response to new experiences, and lose neurons in response to neglect. Thus, with all the determinism built into the initial wiring of our brain, experience with our surrounding environment refines and in some cases rewires that initial wiring.
Nature may be our internal guide (map), but nurture is our explorer that has the final say in what we do (destination). References

Ridley, M. (2003). Nature Via Nurture New York: Harper Collins. U.S. Army Handbook (1973). Military Leadership.
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