Leaders: Lead

Lead2.001When in a position of leadership, lead.

My impatience peaks when I’m at a stoplight and there are several cars in front of me and the light turns green and the person at the front of the line doesn’t move. Arghhh… I usually honk.

I start an imaginary conversation with this person: “Ma’am, sir, do you not realize that because you are at the front of the line, no one can move until you move? Therefore you must be doubly attentive. You’re wasting everyone’s time by not acting responsibly and quickly. Move it…”

My contrived conversation is therapeutic; I feel better after venting my frustration, if only to myself. But this reoccurring scenario also reminds me of a basic tenant of leadership: when in a position of leadership—lead.

Leaders, your team and organization are waiting for you to act. You’re at the front of the line. They won’t move until you do. If you’re passive, they will be, too.

When do leaders move and where do they go? Leaders move because of and toward, vision.

The sine qua non of leadership is having fresh vision. Vision is a picture of the future that is better than the present that produces passion. If you’re in a position of leadership and you don’t have credible vision you may be managing but you’re not leading. Good leaders are obsessed with developing good vision because that’s what “turns the light green” and dictates where you “drive.”

Leaders also take initiative; they have an agenda; they want to get from point A to point B; they are dissatisfied with the status quo.

Vision + initiative = progress.

Warren Bennis said, “Action without vision is stumbling in the dark and vision without action is poverty-stricken poetry.” Leaders need both vision (where we are going) and initiative (let’s start moving in that direction).

The analogy I’ve created is not exact, but it will work. The next time you’re stopped at a streetlight and the light turns green and the person in front doesn’t move, let it be a reminder of the fact that leaders must lead.

When you’re at the front of the line and the light turns green—go.
When you’re in a position of leadership—lead.

[reminder]What are your thoughts about this essay?[/reminder]

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8 Replies to “Leaders: Lead”

  1. This is good information for parents to remember also! If the parents don’t “lead” then how can they expect the children to follow? One of the best illustrations I’ve seen of the ideal leadership hierarchy in families is an illustration of umbrellas. The biggest one is one representing God covering the man, then the next one under it a little smaller is from the man covering his wife, with protection and stability & providing for the family. And last but not least, the last umbrella under the man’s , a little bit smaller, is the woman’s umbrella covering the children with managing them and the household. Not a popular concept now a days but one that God designed to work!

    1. Mary, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’re right, good leadership needs to be exerted in many areas of life, including family life. Often, men and women lead strongly and well at work but are very passive in their leadership at home. Take care, Don

  2. Hello Don,
    I just wanted to let you know that I have had the chance to read this article and it is so interesting to me. This is very well written and has some very helpful and insightful quotes. They are encouraging to me. Thank you! I needed this for a little extra boost and helpful understanding and clarity.
    Wishing you a wonderful day!
    Lynette Williams

  3. Reminds me of “Al”, who once asked me why I hired the best people I could find, whereas he said he never hired anyone who was better than he, being afraid that they would show him up. The result–our group was extremely effective, his was left in the dust.

    P.S. My response at the slow one–“get a gas pedal!”

    1. Kendel, I call that the “dumping down of the organization.” We should always hire the very best people we can. Thanks for writing. Don

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