I may be unique as a leader but,
I am not alone in my observation that
the billions of dollars we are spending on leadership development is not working.
One such expert defines leadership as the art of getting things done.
Great leaders, in this expert’s opinion, got things done even if it meant doing “bad” things. He cited FDR and Abraham Lincoln as examples. In other words, the ends, e.g., getting things done (in President Lincoln’s case suspending the writ of habeas corpus to keep order in a major city), sometimes justify the means.
But if good leadership is defined as effectively influencing others to good outcomes, then the ends justifying the means as a leadership tool, even if used sparingly, can sometimes fail to meet the standard of good leadership.
Many politicians are getting things done, but what of the process they are using to get those things done? I believe President Obama won a Pyric victory when the Affordable Care Act was passed largely without bi-partisan participation.
Many project managers are getting things done, but are they great individual contributors who achieve great results without much buy-in. If so, those results can be short-lived.
Leaders who are prefer to help others achieve their (or the team’s or the organization’s) definition of success focus just as much on the process of getting things done. Not only does it produce the right results achieved the right way, it empowers the people who achieved those results.
One of the best descriptions of this process is:
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists . . . when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, we did it ourselves” Lao Tzu.
For these reasons and others, I think the means matter. What do you think?