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Dean Fuhrman

Steve -

Here is my list of what I want in a leader -

- Treat me like an adult ... in return I will do the same for you
- Tell me the truth ... even if there are various shades and even if it is bad
- Talk to me ... let me have some time to develop my own insights into the situations at hand, and then let me participate
- Admit your own mistakes
- Lean on your strengths and recognize your limitations (even publicly) and then fill them in, even if it takes letting someone else take over in that area
- Be collaborative
- Don't be a jerk
- Help me be my best ... help me liberate my strengths/minimize my weaknesses
- Work "with" me ... we're all in it together anyway so be with me

Interesting, I think any follower should follow the same model for any leader they are following.

Wally Bock

There's a lot that I like in this post.

I'll start with the leader/manager dichotomy. I love most of Warren Bennis' work, but I think he should be flayed alive on pay-per-view for that nonsense he started about how we need less manages and more leaders.

Note to theorists. If you've got a job where you're responsible for the performance of a group you will have to do leadership work and supervision work. You will not "be" a leader, manager, or supervisor or your will be all of them. Take your pick.

Most leadership "development" is indeed classroom based. Alas, you don't develop in a classroom.

Leadership is an apprentice trade. You get some ideas about what to do and how to do it from classes and reading and such. But you learn about 80 percent of it on the job.

There are three powerful tools to help this happen. One is developmental assignments, as stated in the post. Two others are feedback (from your peers, you subordinates, and yourself), a combination of role models, mentors and peers you can look to for advice.

You learn to be a boss over a lifetime of development. There's no program and if there was it wouldn't work for everyone.

Steve Roesler


Your straight-talk list conveys the synthesis of real-life experience and sums up the heart of just about every theoretical model out there.

I'm going to weave into into the last post in the series.

Steve Roesler


Thanks for tossing in the other developmental tools. Don't know why I overlooked them.

Thanks for weighing in on the manager/leader dichotomy. If you can produced the PPV special, I'll be the first to sign up.

That dichotomy has, to me, proven to produce the results of a house divided.

Wally Bock

My biggest problem with the "manager or leader" thing is that people take up time with the debate without having much effect on behavior and results. I'm going to do a program next month at a client for their first line supervisors. When I sent them the time plan for the day, the meeting planner wanted to know why we weren't discussing the manager/leader dichotomy because the CEO says he "wants more leaders." I've sent off my response which is that we can do that but we won't be able to teach cover something else like analyzing performance issues, helping subordinates develop, giving and receiving feedback, etc. I asked them to tell me which one they thought we should eliminate. No response yet. I tremble to think they may suggest that we'll be just fine if I lecture more and cut the exercises.

Steve Roesler


Your response is really a helpful and responsible one. Your client should be pleased to get that kind of thoughtful experience.

I guess the final answer to your question will tell you something--not sure exactly what--about the CEO's knowledge of development. After reading the comment a few times, I guess you could start with whatever the CEO wants and then legitimately follow through with, "Now we need to do this to (either build skill or add leader context).

Please be sure to weigh in with the response. It will make a useful conversation for people faced with the same choices in development.

Jim Stroup

Best line of a piece chock full of them: "The range of attributes used to describe effective leaders are relatively standard. You won't find substantive differences among respected writers, researchers, and practitioners." This is precisely why the leadership movement is a terrible distraction and waste of intellectual energy and organizational resources - to some degree it is actually dangerous.

Best line from the comment thread: ". . . he should be flayed alive on pay-per-view for that nonsense he started about how we need less manages and more leaders." This bit from one of Wally's comments only hints at the damage done by the arrogantly insular pontifications of the self-styled prophets of the modern leadership movement.

Your focus on practical experience - particularly as a deliberate part of a management development program - is an important antidote to this.

Thanks so much for this excellent piece.

Steve Roesler


Glad you like the focus of the article.

I know that you are also committed to the practical application of principles that work because they are based in both truth and reality. I keep thinking that the proliferation of "here's how you should be as a leader" books and workshops are simply one more example of Utopian social engineering, but in a business context.

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