Leadership

GARDNER ON LEADERSHIP

Here are a few of my favourite reflections on leadership from an elder statesman: John W. Gardner, On Leadership (Free Press, 1993):

The world is moved by highly motivated people. No human venture succeeds without strongly motivated men and women.

Anything that humans expend effort for can be a source of motivation. They expend effort on behalf of their physiological needs, family and group loyalties, money, security, and deeply held beliefs. They expend effort on behalf of things that foster their pride and self-esteem, their sense of their own dignity.

Worker participation in decisions on the setting of goals, the assignment of tasks, and the like, heightens productivity. To the degree that workers have a sense of involvement, their pride and dignity are enhanced, and they are more likely to feel personal responsibility for a good outcome.

Leaders must help people believe that they can be effective, that their goals are achievable, and that there is a better future that they can move toward through their own efforts. The question is: To what extent does the leader believe in the followers?

Great leaders are exceptional at creating opportunities for their followers: opportunities to experience new challenges; opportunities to test their judgment; to learn new skills; to work on different teams and projects; etc.

If a leader can help people to see how both personal and group needs can be met by appropriate shared action, pressure and manipulation is no longer necessary… The leader has the task of keeping shared motives on top.

Gardner

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