What is leadership? How can I tell if I am a good, bad, or mediocre leader? How can I develop my own leadership? How can we measure and build leadership effectiveness in our organizations? I’ve discovered the ancient secrets and answers to these questions and have created a magic pixie dust that you can sprinkle on yourself and other leaders to create instant effectiveness…!!

Leadership Secrets - Jim ClemmerOf course, there is no magic, secrets, or definitive answers to these key questions. Management practices are about a way of doing things — processes, systems, procedures, methodologies. Leadership is a way of being – emotions, values, growth, and culture.

Last week’s blog post, Nine Leadership Behaviors to Create Commitment stimulated useful observations and questions from two readers. One reader noted that, “Most managers let themselves off the hook for the poor productivity of an employee.” He added that it’s possible to rectify these situations. Another reader asked, “How is the measurement and management of leadership effectiveness actually implemented in practice?”

Both are key leadership points without easy or clear cut answers. Go to Nine Leadership Behaviors to Create Commitment to see the full comments and my responses. What are your thoughts, experiences, or advice? Join the conversation!

That blog post was based on research and materials I’d been waiting to share with you. There are two more pieces I’ve also been holding for a while that are very relevant to this discussion.

One is Five Signs You’re a Bad Boss by Diana Middleton and published in The Wall Street Journal. She writes, “Experts say many bosses are similarly clueless about their appearance to employees. Here are five signals you may be one of them (condensed here to just her headings):

  1. Most of your emails are one-word long.
  2. You rarely talk to your employees face-to-face.
  3. Your employees are out sick — a lot.
  4. Your team’s working overtime, but still missing deadlines.
  5. You yell.”

Another very useful piece addressing the question, “What is leadership?” was provided by Deepak Chopra writing in the San Francisco Chronicle. Entitled The Leadership Vacuum – Make It Your Friend Chopra declares, “Among the myths about leaders is that they are born and not made.” For more on the emerging evidence on just how true that is see blog post Powerful Proof That Leader’s Are Made, Not Born.

Chopra goes on to explain, “Leaders appear when awareness meets need. A person who knows what a group actually needs — the group can be a family, business, team, or political party — must be more aware than those in need… once the need is identified, the leader must take steps to fill the role that it demands.” He outlines a hierarchy of leader roles “arranged from lowest to highest… higher needs can’t be fulfilled until lower ones are met (condensed here to just headings and his first line):

  1. Protector: Your role is crisis manager.
  2. Achiever: Your role is motivator.
  3. Team Builder: Your role is negotiator.
  4. Nurturer: Your role is counselor.
  5. Innovator: Your role is catalyst.
  6. Transformer: Your role is inspirer.
  7. Sage and seer: Your role is pure light.”

We’re steadily getting better at defining, measuring, and teaching leadership skills and behaviors in our organizations. At a personal level, much of leadership is about our own unique journey of self-discovery and growth. Personal leadership development is much like walking across new fallen snow looking for our leadership path. It’s when we stop and look back at the route that we’ve taken we see our path.