Excerpted from “Leadership can be Learned”
Chapter One: Leadership
Take clear stands and stay connected – the essence of leadership. The task of being an effective authority figure remains the same, whether your role impacts many (President, VP, CEO, etc.) or a few (parent, Front Line Supervisor, etc.). It is your personal hero’s or heroine’s quest…a true combination of art and science. This guide, based on the combined experience of my father Robert P. Crosby, beginning in the 1950s, and my own (an Organization Development Professional since 1984), along with many other sources both ancient and modern, conveys a practical and thoroughly tested model of leadership. Applied with humility and sincerity, you and the people you lead can move mountains.
The hero’s quest has been traveled since the dawn of time (a wonderful source for further exploration of that theme are the writings of Joseph Campbell). The path, while illuminated by this and other teachings, is always uniquely your own. It was forged in your earliest moments, before you understood language, in the cauldron of your earliest authority relationships. You learned then about trust and mistrust, about dependency and independence. You don’t need therapy to understand your current reactions to being an authority figure and to relating to authority figures (although therapy can be a path to learning). You need only to be a clear eyed observer of your own emotional and behavioral reactions. From there you can create your own clarity about how to be the most effective leader you can be.
To walk the path, one must balance taking clear concise stands (focusing on and trusting self) and staying connected to the people you depend on (focusing on and trusting others). Either extreme: only taking stands (leading autocratically) or only staying connected (leading by consensus) will pull you off the path. People respond to clarity, and people respond to mutual respect. A transformational leader knows how to foster both. This book is about that journey. Take clear stands and stay connected and you will create your Camelot moments of results and camaraderie.
So what’s so tough about taking clear stands and staying connected? That’s where the flaming swords of fear and desire rear their ugly heads and block your path. Many leaders desire so much to be “one of the gang” or “just a regular guy” that they undermine their ability to lead. Many also seem to underestimate the deep psychological importance of their role. All humans start their lives completely dependent on the adult authority figures in their lives. The emotions that are experienced in those early relationships stay with us throughout life. We project them onto authority figures and live them out in our own roles of authority. To lead and/or follow effectively we must come to peace with our own reactions to the role, and we must empathize with the reactions of others. This is true whether we are a front line supervisor, a CEO, or a parent. If we let our desire “not to be the boss” keep us from taking clear stands…if we let our fear of our own subordinates reactions keep us from connecting…we cannot lead. To truly lead one must provide direction or the organization will flounder, and one must sincerely relate or the organization will not follow.
Take clear stands and stay connected. This book explores both the art and the science of this simple yet powerful model of leadership, including how to understand yourself and develop your skills.