Good Leadership Cannot Be Choreographed

This is the twenty-third Blog in a weekly series regarding the state of leadership in America. Periodically throughout this extended series on leadership I have reintroduced myself as the author of the book, Leadership DNA: Why the Accepted Premise that Anyone Can Be a leader Is Utterly False and the Main Cause of Poor Leadership in America. This series of Blogs further expands on the leadership topics in my book with the central theme that leaders are born not made. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in business administration. My career spanned 40 years, spending time in the military as a US Army officer and in leadership positions with the federal government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, and the Army, as well as serving as a human resources director in the Defense Department.
For decades, leadership gurus have effectively convinced the vast majority of people that anyone can become a leader with leadership training, personal desire, and commitment. These gurus have monopolized the field of leadership training and they each have developed their own personal blueprints or formulas with the pledge, that if followed, the trainee will become a good leader. These leadership step-by-step plans and formulas for success have been advocated in a multitude of leadership books, workshops, and lectures. These plans and formulas are an effort to prescribe a course of action for situations a leader may likely face. They are “how to” strategies and tactics that attempt to plot each move, each step that a person in a leadership position should take to deal with a particular problem or concern. Like an actor reading from a script or a dancer following the predetermined movements to a piece of music, these gurus lay out an essentially “managed” approach to leadership. The problem with this approach is that you cannot choreograph a leader’s response to a wide range of human activity and organizational change. You cannot manage leadership as if it was some algebraic equation where adherence to formulas equals good leadership. Good leaders recognize that leadership is an art, not a science and as such, it cannot be managed or choreographed with predetermined step-by-step formulas for leaders to follow as they face the challenges of leadership. Good leaders look for approximately a 75 percent solution or chance of being right and then rely on their innate leadership talent to fill in the gap. Put another way, good leaders know how to ad lib, improvise, and they are at home being spontaneous and unrehearsed. The weight of a managed and controlled approach to leadership is both agonizing and tedious to a good leader. What’s more, good leaders see the debilitating “side effects” of managed leadership from following formulas to deal with leadership challenges. These side effects include:
• Hesitating to take action because of a desire to collect more data to be 99 percent positive before moving forward.
• Accepting of formulas as near guarantees of success is ill-advised.
• Adhering to a structured step by step methodology unnecessarily constrains and controls leaders.
• Avoiding taking risks and operating outside the steps of the sanctioned formulas.
Bottom-line: leaders do not lead by following predetermined formulas or choreographed steps. They follow the instincts of their own innate leadership talent and move forward.

This entry was posted in Business, Government, Leadership, Leadership DNA, Management, Paul Okum, Politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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