Posted by: kenwbudd | September 24, 2009

Good Leaders are Good Human Beings? Discuss!

You see here the Fantasy character Buzz Lightyear, recently returned from a tour of duty in the ISS. Carried there and back by one of the NASA astronauts, in the Shuttle Discovery. Science Fiction Fantasy meets Science Reality. The one a parody of the other. 

We all know that there are many paths to follow that lead from Fantasy to Reality. The story of science fiction evolving into science fact can only happen when dedicated visionaries lead the way.

What do we look for in our leaders and how often do we find the ‘right stuff’.

In depth knowledge, self confident and self-awareness has always been necessary to build good leaders but it was never enough. You also had to have the ‘right stuff’. You need the ability and character to inspire, support and motivate before you can ultimately lead.

It may not be fashionable and it may not be ‘the new, new thing’ but the adage that the Leadership Model follows a hierarchy similar to that of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is still relevant and very pertinent today.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs starts at the lowest level, with meeting basic neeeds before moving on to addressing issues with Safety and Security. Once that has been achieved, you can take into consideration the higher goal of finding and sharing Love, Affection and the sense of Belonging. The next step is to achieve Status and Esteem before finally climbing up to and sitting on the top of the world, brim full of Self Awareness, sometimes known as Actualisation.

Organisations still need Self-Aware leaders but there are no shortcuts. We need leaders who are able to progress through all the stages and completely fulfill the lower level needs. It’s not acceptable to be a self confessed leader if you do not fully understand and accept the 3 dimensional nature of leadership and the voyage to the top that took you there.

Let’s look back at the precipitous journey you are on or possibly, you have already completed.

1) Basic Wants/ Physiological Needs
At the base root of all organisation some core wants have to be addressed. They include the tools needed to survive and thrive. This is the core technical skills, in the leadership model. Clearly, if you want to be a Finance Manager, you need to know how to perform accounting tasks and understand the associated practices. Many skills are needed to sel but the main one will be the ability to be erudite.

All one needs to demonstrate, to future employers is that you have the core skills to do the job. Most leaders get promoted to successive levels of leadership through technical mastery but by being technically competent alone does not give them the skills or ability to be exceptional and charismatic leaders.

2) Safety & Security
Leaders need to provide their organisational units with structure and a competent framework to operate in. They need to develop the hierarchy, roles and responsibilities and, most importantly they need to provide the organisational employees with the criteria and opportunity to be successful.

To clamber up to the second level of leadership, a good leader must provide his team with the precise operational model that will make them not only feel secure but also instil a philosophy of positive attitude and how to approach success.

Poor leaders rely heavily on their ego to direct them. They believe that they can be the all powerful king in the midst of disarray and chaos. They think they are controlling and directing the masses but in reality they are burning valuable resources, whilst lurching from crisis to crisis.

A good leader creates the framework where every employee not only feels secure operating in and focusing on his job but also has a repeatable chance of being creative and successful. They have the chance to stretch themselves and not fear the consequences of loss or failure because their leader is there to guide and support them, throughout. They do their job well and the organisation benefits.

3) Love, Affection and Belonging
This builds on from the creation of a safe and secure environment and leads us into the need and ability to foster cohesive teamwork. The basic requirements here is that the leader needs to ensure that his team players are working well together but he also has to ensure that his team plays well within the whole organisation and can work well with ‘others’.

You are not provided with the chance to model a team from a single piece of clay. you have to build this team from the wide assortment of characters and personalities that this world provides. Even after the skilled HR department has carefully filtered,selected and processed the candidates.

You have a team of disparate (or desperate) people from different backgrounds, brought together for a common purpose and it is your challenge to make them interact in a positive, productive and interactive way by building good, strong relationships.

Poor or weak leadership can easily create divisions, within and without your locality. It is so easy to create a self-protective silo mentality that spends too much energy and time defending itself from outside ‘influences’ and gets caught up in ‘power’ struggles. What you don’t want is to be a stressed out head of a dysfunctional family unit that is feuding with it’s neighbours. You need to actively create a common sense of purpose that transcends boundaries and divisions.

4) Esteem
As we mature in our organisational interactions with others, professional respect and appropriate response, may be all that really matters. For a leader to be considered a good leader, this respect has to be born of an independent outlook and a strong vision. Discard fear and intrepidation, actively and sincerely appreciate what every person is bringing to the table.

A good leader will not give respect lightly. You will need to prove your worth through your commitment and your actions. Talk alone does not do it. A good leader looks at the role you play in the organisation and will treat you with the respect the role commands, unless or until, you prove unworthy of it.

5) Self-Awareness
Do you consider yourself to be a ‘good well balanced, human being’. Self Awareness is ‘presence’, ‘authority’, ‘charisma’, ‘qudos’, etc. The ability a leader possess, by the sheer power of his positive presence. One in which he is able to hold a clear vision, taking a higher road that puts the interests of his organisation to the fore.

The self-aware leader never takes credit for the actions of their team, there is no ‘gray area of interpretation’ on morals or ethics. A self-aware leader is in the spotlight 24×7, laid bare before the organisation, always on call for their people.

A good leader is inspiring and consistent in their judgement. They are fair, balanced and trustworthy. People are driven and motivated by a good leader. They respect them but are not diminished or intimidated by them.

If you know a good organisations that is looking for good leaders. Tell them to clearly and honestly, examine their true requirements and goals. The 3 dimensional levels of needs that they want to meet and satisfy.

Remember that truly successful organisations must be led by thoroughly ‘good human beings’, people of good character. These are the only people who will lead us from deception and fantasy into the harsh reality of the future, and they will deal with it appropriately, when we get there.

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