Sunday, May 23, 2010

Follow me: what makes a good leader?

"You must have an honest understanding of who you are, what you know, and what you can do. Also, note that it is the followers, not the leader or someone else who determines if the leader is successful. If they do not trust or lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired. To be successful you have to convince your followers, not yourself or your superiors, that you are worthy of being followed." Concepts of Leadership
A successful leader is determined by the people following. That being said, who do people want to follow? In the Army, if you can't run, people don't want to follow. To some, that may not make sense. After all, becoming a successful runner requires discipline and good physical condition, but it doesn't require other characteristics normally associated with leadership (ethics and integrity, for example). Some people are naturally good runners and don't necessarily have discipline. But that doesn't negate the fact that being a good runner is a requirement to being an effective leader in the Army. An NCO at Ft. Benning told me that it doesn't matter how many sit-ups and push-ups I can do, it's the run that matters--a good leader is also a good runner. And logical or not, if the follower determines the success of the leader, a good leader should make every effort to be a good runner.
Leadership is influencing people—by providing purpose, direction, and motivation—while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization. FM 22-100
Clearly, leadership involves more than running, but running affects motivation and cannot be ignored. I'm not a naturally good runner. I had to work hard just to pass the running portion of the APFT. However, if being a good runner is necessary to being an effective leader, I'll do whatever it takes to become one.

What do you think?

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