What Do You Believe About Leadership?


Over the years, I’ve managed to come up with my own beliefs about leadership. They are constantly changing and in flux as I work with clients and observe leaders who are present in other aspects of my life. This post is my way of making my own current beliefs explicit, and possibly starting a conversation with you about your own beliefs.

Leadership is not a position on an organization chart, although it can be. It is “a way of being”, which means that leaders can be found anywhere in our organizations and communities. Most of us lead and most of us follow at different times – and the flow between leadership and followership is a dance that is seamless at its best.

Deciding to lead should be, when possible, a conscious choice. There are leaders who are “naturals” at it, and have not been conscious of their choice to lead. For the majority, however, leading is an intentional act that requires constant reflection, action, learning, and adjustment to be the best.

Healthy relationships built on mutual respect are the foundation for great leadership. When respect is present, strong relationships can be built. This process builds followership, a necessary ingredient for taking action to achieve goals.

Leaders who focus on the needs of others, assisting them to develop and grow, will reap more benefits than they can possibly imagine. Strong followers who are appreciative of the efforts to provide opportunities to get better at what they do are a great outcome of this learning.

Leadership is contnually learned  as new opportunities and situations present themselves. If this weren’t true, there is no hope.

Great leadership is a journey. It is personal and begins within the individual and radiates outward to others. It is not easy, but it can be extremely gratifying.

Great leaders can be a catalyst for possibility when all doors appear closed. They know that even in the toughest situations, there is always a solution. But they also know that they may not have the best solution, so they are willing to invite participation from others to find the answers.

Great leaders bring clarity of purpose to their organizations and communities. They know that their followers are struggling to find meaning in the work they do; the best leaders are able to catalyze the discovery of that meaning.

Great leaders are human. Even the best make mistakes but they apologize, accept forgiveness, learn from their errors, and move on. We need more leaders who are in touch with their humanity in this way.

Leadership is a privilege and a responsibility. It is the wise leader who understands the impact they have in the smallest of actions. Great leaders treat this impact with great reverence.

What do you agree or disagree with in this list? What woul you add about your beliefs?

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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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