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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Leaders do the job -- through people

Where do you get your Leadership Advice?

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked: leadership is defined by results, not attributes. -- Peter Drucker
"Don't find fault, find a remedy." Henry Ford

One way of learning about a subject is exploring the opinions of others. How useful this method is depends on which expert you choose for advice. We’ll explore leadership in Costa Mesa by surveying what experts say, both real authorities and our local self-defined experts.

Define the term

First of all, in this series we’ll call leadership “the ability to inspire willing and enthusiastic cooperation in the accomplishment of goals.” That definition eliminates title, rank, and charisma while it focuses on getting things done through people

For our expert sources we’ll use authorities in the field; cited researchers and successful leaders who consistently accomplish their missions through the inspired work of their subordinates. We’ll select those who also taught others. And, we'll emphasize the lessons taught by those who were successful but had strident detractors – they led through contentious times.

Some examples might be: Martin Luther King, Jr., Gen. George Patton, CEO Jack Welch, and Coach Vince Lombardi. They were all successful through the work of their followers and they all were soundly criticized.

Plan the work, work the plan

We'll start by distilling a leader’s lessons to use as a measuring tool, and see what their critics claimed. Then we'll examine Costa Mesa councilmen using the same tool, and we'll see what their critics say. The Mayor and the Pro Tem have received the most attention as leaders lately, so they’ll be our primary focus. 

Each post in this series will focus on a different expert and their chief critics. The Costa Mesa “leadership experts” and critics are too few in number to avoid overlap and repetition, though.

We haven’t noted verifiable leadership expertise or education among the critics so we’ll just use what we can find. That is, if their criticism is factual or based upon opinions of experts we'll debate the contentions briefly only if they seem erroneous. If they are just expressions of the critics’ “gut feelings” we'll note the critic’s expertise if it seems pertinent.


As always, this blog is about ideas so we’ll avoid using names unless it’s necessary for clarity or if the person cited is a celebrity or an authority. 

We don’t want to jump into pointless personal attack and inflammatory remarks; they divert from the issues.

Next in this series: what successful leaders and leader-developers teach.

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