Lessons in Leadership

Lessons in Leadership

by / April 2, 2007
Public CIO's tagline reads: "Technology Leadership in the Public Sector." Since leadership is the primary factor in public-sector modernization, it deserves a closer look.

All progress depends on good leaders. Many people think of leaders as strong, larger-than-life personalities who exude charisma and confidence and lead by command or inspiration. Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., Jack Welch, among others, come to mind.

In the public sector, technology leadership has been more commonly equated with a strong vision and the ability to get programs implemented.

In his book Good to Great, management expert Jim Collins analyzed 11 successful corporations and the qualities of their leaders. Surprisingly he discovered that many of these leaders were often low-key, reserved and humble. Collins said they exhibited "personal humility and professional will." These leaders guided by example, gained the confidence of their employees and empowered their work force.

Contrary to widespread belief, leadership is not reserved for the top executive in an organization. With the networked and remote work force of today, the traditional hierarchical management structures call for a different type of leadership. The virtual team or "open source" collaborative work force must be leaders themselves because they are actively incubating new ideas, creating management brain trusts and providing project methodologies to achieve greater results. A company's success depends on its workers' ability to engage people from all levels, not just receive orders from above or bark orders to those below.

There is no limit to learning sound leadership skills, yet some characteristics stand out. Here are a few of my favorite leadership qualities:

A leader is someone who ...

1. makes decisions and has the courage to follow through with the necessary actions;
2. values people and recognizes that each person deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and kindness;
3. puts more emphasis on establishing partnerships and long-term relationships than on the profit margin;
4. is willing to take an unpopular stand;
5. recognizes that people, including themselves, make mistakes, and must be allowed to 6. learn from their mistakes and not repeat them; and
7. explores innovative thinking, funding models and collaboration.

Above all else, being a leader means having the courage to do the right thing, and to inspire a group of people to effect change. Public-sector leaders I know embody and exhibit the qualities listed above. What qualities are on your list?
Jon Fyffe Publisher