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December 2001 - The only things a leader needs to know

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December 2001

The only things a leader needs to know

I have read many books and articles on leadership. I have also heard a great number of people speak on the subject, have observed effective leaders, and have led large organizations myself. As I have read, studied, and gained extensive practical experience, I have become convinced that a really effective leader needs to know only three things.

  1. Know where you want to go. Effective leaders know where they are headed. That is, they have a goal or an objective in mind for the group. Good leaders know where the organization or group they are leading should go and what should be accomplished. The proverb says, "Without vision, the people perish." This proverb may not always be true; an organization may not perish. But without vision a group or an organization will often languish, become dispirited, and suffer from lack of enthusiasm and purpose. Almost certainly if a leader doesn't know where to go, the group or organization will not achieve its potential.
  2. Know how to get there. A driver may know the city that is to be his destination. But if he doesn't know the right road to take, he won't get there. He will be disappointed, and so will others in the car with him. Many leaders are like this. They have a vision. They know what the group or organization needs to accomplish. They know where they want to go, but they don't know how to get there. In other words, they don't have a valid plan. Sound planning is essential to effective leadership.
  3. Know how to get others to follow you. A leader may solicit the help of others to know where to go and know how to get there. But when it comes to getting others to follow, no one else can do it; it's the leader's responsibility. The position of leadership demands demonstration of the ability to get others to follow. People are not effective leaders if others won't follow them.

Next month I will tell what a leader must do to get others to follow.

John Kline
Troy, Alabama

December 2001 - The only things a leader needs to know
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