The Essence of Organizational Leadership in Business, Government, and Education

The essence of organizational leadership is acceptance of responsibility for producing better outcomes for the organization, its customers, and its people. The most effective way to accomplish this is to recognize that the purpose of a leader is to help his or her people be successful in meeting or exceeding the expectations of customers. This is also true in education and applies to principals in private, parochial and public schools and to university presidents as well as business and governmental leaders.

The job of a leader is not to give orders, keep people in line, enforce rules or regulations, or disciple and terminate. These may sometimes be necessary but they are secondary to the leader’s purpose which is to help employees be successful whether professional, managerial, sales, white collar or blue.

The most common mistake leaders make is acting under the belief that they are the center of all wisdom; that all solutions flow through them. These men and women cherish their power as if it is a precious commodity over which they must stand guard.

Powerful positive leaders recognize that the most effective use of power is through empowerment of one’s people, and not just the people within the organization but also throughout the supply chain. These leaders view their people as assets rather than liabilities.

While it is true that the leader is often the most knowledgeable and experienced person in the organization, it is vital that they share rather than hoard their wisdom. Powerful positive leaders view each challenge as a teaching opportunity. These powerful men and women pull their people into the creative process of innovation, problem-solving, and decision-making. This results not only in better outcomes but also in the growth and development of the organization’s people.

Sharing leadership in this manner has a compounding effect in that the growth of an organization’s people increases the power of the entire organization, including that of the leader. It works like any other investment to increase the value of the asset; in this case, the organization’s people. This type of positive leadership also increases loyalty and commitment.

The leader retains ultimate responsibility for the success of the enterprise and may, periodically, find it necessary to intercede. Even this creates an invaluable learning opportunity, however, and it is imperative that the leader helps his or her people understand.

The best leaders understand that they need not always be right and that the best outcomes are always bigger than any one person. Neither is it necessary for the leader to be the smartest person in the organization. Positive leaders need to be an effective teacher. Some people are fearful that their status as leader may be threatened as others gain knowledge and wisdom but this is an irrational fear. Ironically, teachers almost always learn as much or more than their pupils.

The reader is invited to check out my book, The Difference Is You: Power Through Positive Leadership.