I have been spending the past few days in a completely different word than Bucknell. The United States Naval Academy is hosting their annual leadership conference. I feel somewhat out of place here amoungst the students in their uniforms. This organization operates on a much different set of standards and traditions than the Bucknell organization. It has been an irriplacable expericence to here about how leadership roles are taken by the students here at the academy.
While here we have discussed what traits make the best leaders. My favorites have come from Vice Admiral Ann E. Rondeau. She says that good leaders listen and learn first and use conversational leadership (or lead by asking questions). If someone does not know the culture of the people she is leading, then it is impossible for her to lead them properly. She told a story of when she entered her first ship. Because of where she came from she was legally in charge of other members of the ship who had been in the service much longer than she had. She felt that it was her duty to learn about the people on the ship and their cultures and traditions in order to lead them effectively. Vice Admiral Rondeau also believes that good leaders are passionate about what they do. How can a person lead others if she does not believe in the cause or goals of that organization?
When we speak of leaders today, some minds may turn to the managers and C-level employees of a company, but are these people really the best example of leadership? Can a leader be born out of a position that is not in the lime light? Looking back at what we have been talking about at this conference I would conclude that anyone can be a leader, but that it is not always the best call to look to management for the best leaders. As we have learned from Organizations and Organizing management in today’s society typically comes up through rational-legal means, that is they ascend by following the norms of the organization (whether that be most productive, best at organizing, etc.). I would like to propose that leaders rise up from a more charismatic stand point. Leaders understand their people and know how to inspire them to do great things. They gain respect not because they are legally guaranteed it, but because they earn it by gaining the trust of those around them.
I would like to part with two questions for you to ponder (and respond to if you are interested):
1. What do you believe are the true qualities of a leader?
2. Are managers always good leaders?