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Posts Tagged ‘On Leadership’

It may take heroes to challenge systems, and leaders to change systems, but systems that function successfully from day to day do so because ordinary men and women perform their appointed tasks well.
    —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
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On This Day In:
2014 We Have Ignition!
2013 The Dreamer
2012 I Err Gladly
2011 Ill Executed
And You?

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Hierarchy, impersonality, an intricate pattern of specialized roles and the extent to which behavior is determined by the position one occupies — all tend to diminish the likelihood of leaderlike action at all levels of organization.  But, as students of bureaucracy have found, the formal institutional structure has only a limited capacity to suppress the informal exercise of leadership.
   —    John W. Gardner
From his book: “On Leadership
.

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There are no traits that guarantee successful leadership in all situations.   …What produces a good result, as I suggested earlier, is the combination of a particular context and an individual with the appropriate qualities to lead in that context.
    —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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I recall the senior partner of a law firm stressing to younger men and women in his firm the importance of client trust.  One ambitious young lawyer asked how one went about winning trust, and the senior partner said dryly, “Try being trustworthy.”
   —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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We are what we pretend to be.
     —    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
From his book:  “Mother Night
[If we want to be bad enough and try to be hard enough.  Unless we aren’t…     —    KMAB]
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What leaders see on the surface can be discouraging — people, even very able people, caught in the routines of life, thinking short-term, plowing narrow self-beneficial furrows through life.  What leaders have to remember is that somewhere under that somnolent surface is the creature that builds civilizations, the dreamer of dreams, the risk taker.  And, remembering that, the leader must reach down to the springs that never dry up, the ever-fresh springs of the human spirit.
     —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve.  This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent.
    —    Tony Robbins
(a famous motivational speaker)
[And you?  Have you tested your level of commitment lately?    —    KMAB]
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One reason simple answers have not emerged from the research is that there are no simple answers, only complicated answers hedged by conditions and exceptions.  Followers do like being treated with consideration, do like to have their say, do like a chance to exercise their own initiative — and participation does increase acceptance of decisions.  But there are times when followers welcome rather than reject authority, want prompt and clear decisions from the leader, and want to close ranks around the leader.  The ablest and most effective leaders do not hold to a single style;  they may be highly supportive in personal relations when that is needed, yet capable of a quick, authoritative decision when the situation requires it.
     —     John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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… A citizenry that wants to be lied to will have liars as leaders.  Have we not tested that generalization at every level of government?
    —    John W. Gardner
From his book: “On Leadership
.

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In interactions involving motivation, trust and loyalty, a message on the computer terminal is not enough.  Suggestion boxes are not enough.  Employee polls are not enough.  Nothing can substitute for a live leader (not necessarily the top leader) listening attentively and responding informally.  There is more to face-to-face communication than the verbal component.  The leader’s style, timing and symbolic acts all carry messages — and demonstrate that messages are being received.  Wise leaders are continuously finding ways to say to their constituents, “I hear you.”
    —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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Leaders, to be effective, must pick up the signals coming to them from constituents.  And the rule is:  If the messages from below say you are doing a flawless job, send back for a more candid assessment.
    —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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Leaders are almost never as much in charge as they are pictured to be, followers almost never as submissive as one might imagine.
    —    John W. Gardner
From his book:   “On Leadership
.

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A great civilization is a drama lived in the minds of a people.  It is a shared vision; it is shared norms, expectations, and purposes.
…Every healthy society celebrates its values.  They are expressed in art, in song, in ritual.  They are stated explicitly in historical documents, in ceremonial speeches, in textbooks.  They are reflected in stories told around the campfire, in the legends kept alive by old folks, in the fables told to children.
Values always decay over time.  Societies that keep their values alive do so not by escaping the processes of decay but by powerful processes of regeneration.  There must be perpetual rebuilding.  Each generation must rediscover the living elements in its own tradition and adapting them to present realities.  To assist in that rediscovery is one of the tasks of leadership.
    —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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To exercise leadership today, leaders must institutionalize their leadership.  The issues are too technical and the pace of change too swift to expect that a leader, no matter how gifted, will be able to solve personally the major problems facing the system over which he or she presides.  …Some leaders may be quite gifted in solving problems personally, but if they fail to institutionalize the process, their departure leaves the system crippled.  They must create or strengthen systems that will survive them.
    —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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Leaders and leader/managers distinguish themselves from the general run of managers in at least six respects:
1) They think longer term —  beyond the day’s crises, beyond the quarterly report, beyond the horizon.
2) In thinking about the unit they are heading, they grasp its relationship to larger realities — the larger organization of which they are a part, conditions external to the organization, global trends.
3) They reach and influence constituents beyond their jurisdictions, beyond boundaries.
4) They put heavy emphasis on the intangibles of vision, values, and motivation and understand intuitively the nonrational and unconscious elements in leader-constituent interaction.
5) They have the political skill to cope with the conflicting requirements of multiple constituencies.
6) They think in terms of renewal.  The routine manager tends to accept organizational structure and process as it exists.  The leader or leader/manager seeks the revisions of process and structure required by ever-changing reality.
    —   John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
.

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