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August 15, 2010


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Kathy Klotz-Guest

Great post, Don. I, too, have such respect for Colin Powell. He's demonstrated leadership in many facets of his life.

Especially in the age of economic uncertainty that we are in, we need strong leaders more than ever.

I especially like #3 above. An adage that is a variation on that is "better to do right, than be right." Someone else's ideas (outside the exec suite) might be the right thing for an organization. Leaders are champions of "right" for the organization - not "being right" for maintaining one's ego. Great ideas can come from anywhere in the organization and great leadership fosters the key idea that innovation is everyone's responsibility.

Egos can keep good bosses from becoming great. Stanford Professor Bob Sutton in an upcoming book, "Good Boss, Bad Boss" describes that great leadership includes the ability to apologize and recognize when one is wrong. That ability is not weakness, as some might argue, but strength. And, also right in line with "doing right, not being right," is that great leadership lets go and empowers others. Great leaders do not dis-empower employees; insecure ones do (Think: Dilbert)!

When it comes to communications leadership, the best communicators are often not found in the exec suite, as we know. Great leaders give some latitude to those who are innovative, masterful communicators and who can do the job better than they can (doing right v. being right).

Leadership is about making the hard choices. While Oprah is right (and I have also heard her say "we make decisions based on how we feel" as well), positions and feelings change, but values don't. Change is constant, and so are key values. That's in alignment with "doing right, not being right." And when core values drive our decisions, we make choices consistent with who we are and great leadership. Great leaders don't let others' opinions manage their choices. Not out of ego, but great leaders know they cannot please everybody (it's segmentation, of course). Trying to do so dilutes leadership and effectiveness in trying to do what's right. Perfect decision-making (no such thing) is the enemy of great.

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