Another Whiskey, Barkeep!
Barlish - The Language of The Bar
We hear the terms leader and leadership tossed around a lot. Some are good leaders and others, not so much. And some, like Trump, are a frigging disaster.
But what is a leader? What does it take to be a leader and more importantly, what does is take to be a really good or even great leader? The answer is simple. People, it takes people. Every enterprise on this planet is created by, run by, and improved on by people. As a leader, you will only be as good as the people you are leading.
You don't teach leadership. You can teach techniques for dealing with various issues that might come up in the role of being a leader. You can teach things like developing mission statements and strategies for accomplishing a mission. You can teach budgeting, and accounting, and capital investment and ROI kind of stuff, but none of that leads people; it merely gives them the tools to execute certain tasks.
I dare say that if most people had won the Powerball game that just dropped a billion dollars in someone's lap last night, before taxes, most of us would not suffer an damn alarm at 5:00am any longer, or spend our morning in a traffic jam eating a pastry and sipping coffee while we worked on our profane vocabulary.
Work is a necessary evil of a society. If you quit your job and sold all your worldly possesions and moved into the forest as far away from people as you could, you could be free of bosses and schedules and mandatory tasks. You could get up when you felt like it, or if you heard a bear trying to get into your cabin.
You would be your own boss. Still, there would be things you "had" to do. If you're where the winters are cold, you would have to stockpile firewood and food stuffs to supplement what I assume you would eat according to your hunting and fishing.
Survival would be the only boss you had to salute. That life in the wild is neither practical or maybe even possible for a majority of us, especially with the shrinking wilderness areas in our country. If we all tried to do this, the wilderness would have the density of Manhattan.
So, we work out of a necessity; that is also true for the leaders. Each of us, then, tries to find something in our job that motivates us to answer that alarm every morning. We look at our jobs and try to find a way to see what we do in our jobs as making a contribution to something more than just us. That's human nature. That's what drives most humans. Unlike most of the rest of the animal world that seems content with munching grass or licking termites off of a stick, we humans tend to strive for something more than just being part of the herd.
And, this is where true leadership comes in. As the leader, you need to get to know your people. You need to understand, and I mean truly understand their specific skills, talents, and ambitions. Not as a collective, but on an individual basis for those people you interact with daily. It is not enough to broad-brush the situation and say something like, "Oh, I have a bunch of talented people in my organiztion. You need to know what each of them brings to the party; how each of them makes a special contribution to the success of your operation and subsequently to your own success.
And, once you acknowledge their talents, and you do have to mean it when you say they do a good job, you are on the right track. You have to truly believe that last statement and see the value they bring to the whatever the mission is that you are responsible for as the leader. If you don't respect and value the people closest to you as well as those more removed, then you're in the wrong job. You need to get an individual-contributor position where it's just about you. These exist and you can still make a lot of money and perhaps even gain significant recognition, but for chrissaske, do not take a job as a leader if you don't like and believe in people.
That, among other problems, was where Trump failed so miserably. He doesn't like people, except maybe his children. He respects no one. He does not see people around him as having value unless they are committed to making him look great ,and if they fail at that, he slams the door on them quicker than on an encyclopedia salesman. Trump is a lot of things, most of which require a degree in profanity, but he is definitely not a people person.
Leadership is about people. It requires liking people and taking the time to know them, at least those who are our direct reports, well enough to appreciate, respect, and embrace their unique talents as employees and has human beings. You should be able to project at least some of them into moving up in the organization and perhaps beyond you in your particular enterprise. You should take pride in the fact that as their leader, you may have helped them rise to be your boss someday; nothing in your mind should be seen as a greater accomplishment than helping to develop the next generation of leaders.
You will not be a leader forever. You will grow old and your skills and knowledge will gather dust and rust. You will become obsolete and the people you have worked with and mentored will step into your slot. They have watched and learned from you the way a young lion watches the alpa male in their pride and when their turn comes, they will reflect what they learned from you. If you can embrace that view of being a manager, you will become at least of good leader.
I feel confident that Joe Biden is a good and probably great leader. I think he brings out the best in people and clears a path for them to succeed to their individual maximum potential. President Biden is a people person and I think we'll find that people will go to the ends of the earth to help Biden succeed and in so doing, help our nation and as a byproduct of that, succeed themselves.