The Solitary Nature of Leadership

This is the twenty-eighth Blog in a weekly series regarding the state of leadership in America. President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read, “The Buck Stops Here” As President, Truman recognized that he was ultimately responsible for the decisions made by him and his administration. Likewise, every person in a leadership position should have the same sign on his or her desk because the message applies to all leaders at all levels. Truman’s four words place a heavy burden on anyone who has authority over other people. Once you accept a leadership position, you are no longer, to use an analogy, just a rider on a bus; you are now the driver of the bus. And just as there can only be one President of the United States, there can only be one driver of the bus. The driver can ask the passengers for input on how to improve the bus or form a committee to determine the best route to take to their destination, but at the end of the day, the driver will be the one person responsible for the operation of the bus and the well-being of the people on the bus. The weight of leadership cannot be shared or delegated in any form or to anyone. This responsibility and accountability rests with the leader and the leader alone. From team leader to president, the buck stops with each leader. Good leaders accept this and understand that the decisions they make can determine the success or failure of their mission and the individual and collective futures of their people. Good leaders bear the weight of leadership because they know that they have the innate leadership talent to effectively deal with the challenges of leadership. Good leaders will also ensure that their people have the tools, training, and support they need to succeed. And most importantly, they will deal with any person under their authority who is a conduct or performance problem for to do otherwise could jeopardize the mission and erode the people’s trust in the leader. In executing these responsibilities, good leaders realize that they are as leaders, separate and yet inseparable from their team. Being in command, being the one person with his or her hands on the steering wheel of the bus, will naturally cause a leader to feel separate or apart from the rest of the team. For good leaders, this weight of being responsible is balanced by the sheer exhilaration of being the leader, of being what he or she was born to do. Good leaders will embrace the responsibility of leadership and acknowledge the feeling of being separate and yet inseparable from their teams. They understand and accept the solitary nature of command, of being the one in charge, of being the one person who is accountable and yet at the same time, being an integral part of the team. Poor leaders and especially new leaders must guard against being cut off and isolated from the team by becoming entranced and entrapped by the power of command and an inflated ego. If this occurs, then the leader will in fact become separate from the team and truly alone, and in that case the sign on a poor leader’s desk will read, “The buck better not stop here.” or “I will return when my people clean up all these bucks.” or “I want the name of the person who sent this buck to me.” Pick any one, they all apply.

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

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