What makes a Leader Great?
When Chancellor Jack Hawkins
and I compiled a booklet on “Quotable Quotes on Leadership from Troy
University,” we read the thoughts of many people on the subject. Furthermore, as
Director of the Institute for Leadership Development at Troy University, I spend
much time considering the subject of leadership. I want to help my students and
the persons in the conferences we direct to achieve leadership greatness. I
have come to believe great leaders do three things.
- Great leaders inspire, motivate, encourage and promote
transformation of an organization and its people. (Transformational
Leadership) Leadership is more than a transaction or reciprocal exchange
between leaders and followers—more than giving something in return for
compliance. Transformational leaders balance attention to both the tasks to be
done and the people doing them; their actions create trust and they consistently
re-infect the organization and the people with the vision.
- Great leaders find
good people, give them responsibility, and then help them succeed. (Shared
Leadership) True shared leadership does not imply absence of a leader who
bears ultimate responsibility; no organization will succeed for any length of
time without one person at the top. What shared leadership means is the leader
is willing to delegate responsibly (see the September 2006 column), mentor
effectively (see columns from April 2005, May 2005 and June 2005) and give
followers the tools to develop their own leadership knowledge, skills and
ability. Success and viability of an organization depend upon doing these
- Great leaders serve
others and the organizations to which they belong. (Servant Leadership)
I have written and spoken on servant leadership many places, including the
October 2007 and July 2008 columns. Servant leadership is about doing the right
things for the right reasons. But not only is servant leadership the good and
right thing to do, servant leadership promotes follower satisfaction; and
satisfied people are productive people. Simply stated, people accomplish more
under servant leadership. Great leaders are servant leaders.
Since leaders always bear
responsibility for what happens in an organization, it follows that one should
want to be a great leader. A leader achieves greatness by service, willingness
to share leadership and desire to transform the organization and the individuals
in the organization.