November 27, 2008

Leadership and situation

I really liked the definition we achieved for leadership in the last few days. I believer each one of us would make smaller changes to it, but since it was done by a group we reached quite a good definition.

However, in one of the other definitions the word "situation" came up. The same happened last Monday, when the situation was also considered.

I do think the situation plays a very important part in HOW to lead in a specific moment. But I don`t think it should be IN the definition and I will say why.

We all agree that like dancing or writing leadership is a skill. Some people find it easier to lead then other, the same way some people find dancing much easier them others. Both can be learned and improved. Of course even with a lot of training I`ll never dance like Fred Astaire or Nureyev, but it can be improved. The same with leadership. You might not became a Gandhy or a Alexander the Great but you can improve it. And if that`s a skill it means that it can used or adapted for use in lot`s of situations.  Some one who is a good dancer might be fantastic at Jazz or Waltz, but not so good Samba or Salsa. But this person is probably going to do much better them someone who simply can not dance anything (like myself, for instance). Of course you would be able to find someone who was good at dancing and was especially good in Samba and Salsa and that would be the most recommended person for that specific situation, but skill wise (dancing) it does not make this person better them the other dancer who is better in Waltz and Jazz. But if you had to define the skill of dancing, you should make both of them fit.

The example Paul presented on Monday to justify the situation part of the definition was Winston Churchill.Churchill has a very funny life story. A very aristocratic person, from a very traditional English family had a good education. He also had a very interesting and unusual life. When in the navy he planned what was to became one of the greatest defeats ever for the British navy, the Galipoli Battle. Late, as the chancellor of the exchequer (English version of ministry of finance), he conducted the transition of the pound back to the gold standard and did it in a awful away despite several warnings from very important people (notably Keynes, by them already one of the most important economists in history). He later admitted that he conducted it awfully. But in WW2 he played such an amazing part, he was the true leader of the British and one of the major leaders (alongside Roosevelt-US and Stalin-USSR) for the part of the world that did not support Germany-Italy-Japan. Even though separated by the channel, with almost all of continental Europe taken, he was able to keep the morale up and to find support for UK. A true leader in a very needed moment. Until nowadays he is probably the most famous English leader of the world, more then Queen Elizabeth I, or Queen Victoria. But as soon as the war was over, he failed to remain and prime-minister again. He was later to come back, but did not shine like he did during the war.

So I ask the question, considering that he failed many times but had a MAJOR success in a much needed time would we qualify him as a real leader only in a specific situation? Not sure I agree with that. I agre that some people, some styles do fit better in some situations, but when defining a leader I think that if someone is able to lead in a situation, he is a leader even if he has trouble in other kinds of situations. Like Churchill, or like a dancer who is good in Waltz and Jazz but not im Samba and Salsa is also a dancer.

     


- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Louis

    The distinction you made is between qualifying someone as leader & leadership by definition
    Qualifying someone as leader- sure, if someone can lead in some situation, then he is a leader- agreed, this person is leader AT LEAST once

    but when we talk about Leadership (without specific reference to person), situation is important- unless we have evidence of someone who can lead in ANY situation, then all people will exhibit leadership depending on the situation (which is illustrated by your dancer and Churchill examples), and situation should be a part of leadership definition.

    hope this is not too confusing …

    27 Nov 2008, 19:07

  2. ha. actually I have same feeling with Francisco.When my team come up with the “situation” requirement. I didn’t agree with them at first. But I am not good at explaining my own opinion, and sometimes it’s just a intuition. You feel something isn’t right but you cannot tell it why. But my team mates convinced me anyway.

    It’s like in a team or group. Someone is always the first one to give suggestions, directions, solutions and find the way out. You can try to recall some personal experience if this kind of person exit in your life. I regard this as characteristic of leadership, like in political science we got another word called “charisma”. (Dictionary: you say that someone has charisma when they can attract, influence and inspire people by their personal qualities.)

    Maybe I am too innocent as I connect leadership to a smart superman who is good at everything and could handle all situations. ( In this assumption, “situation” should not be seperately considered as a requirement in the definition. )

    27 Nov 2008, 20:54

  3. the problem with ‘charismatic leader’ is that when people discover their leader does not have the right power (ability, skills, experience etc) to achieve their common goal, they are quick to replace their leader

    situation is important because no body is a superman with ability to do everything and handle all situation !

    looks like the debate on ‘situational leadership’ will go on ….

    01 Dec 2008, 00:22

  4. fishing tackle

    what about a charasmatic leader who reaches his goals through dirtsribution of leadership to others.

    08 Jan 2009, 14:39


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