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The Real Role of a Leader

A humorous look at the role of a leader in any organization.  If you have ever been a leader, I’m sure you can relate to this quote from an anonymous author.

As nearly everyone knows, a leader has practically nothing to do except to decide what is to be done; tell somebody to do it; listen to reasons why it should not be done or why it should be done in a different way; follow up to see if the thing has been done; discover that it has not; inquire why; listen to excuses from the person who should have done it; follow up again to see if the thing has been done, only to discover that it has been done incorrectly; point out how it should have been done; conclude that as long as it has been done, it may as well be left where it is; wonder if it is not time to get rid of a person who cannot do a thing right; reflect that the person probably has a spouse and a large family, and any successor would be just as bad and maybe worse; consider how much simpler and better matters would be now if he had done it himself in the first place; reflect sadly that he could have done it right in twenty minutes, and, as things turned out, he has had to spend two days to find out why it has taken three weeks for somebody else to do it wrong.

  1. February 2, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I enjoyed the quote, it’s pretty funny. After reading it the first couple things I thought about were: 1. Leaders usually can’t do the thing that was done wrong, 2. I am wondering about the leader’s learning agility.

    For the first one, you can’t do it because you hire those around you who can (or are supposed to). Those around you are not equals, but people who have skills/abilities that you don’t and can get the job done. If the leader can do everything on his own, then he is surrounded by the wrong people.

    Learning agility comes in to play when you learn from mistakes or experiences and adapt accordingly. How quickly is the leader able to recover from this and is he able to pull out the proper lessons from such an experience?

    We’re not always blessed with the people we want to work with though, or the ability to do anything about it. Learning agility separates a manager from a leader.

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