To say that I personally was ashamed by the blatant refusal of our nation’s leaders to join with other world leaders in the show of unity in Paris would be the Academy Award-winning understatement of the century. It was a “failure of leadership” on a colossal scale.
But the action (or inaction) got me to thinking about the qualities that define a leader and how we, as public relations professionals, can best demonstrate our leadership potential.
Here’s my “top-three” shortlist*…
The first quality that comes to mind is “action.” And, no, I’m not talking about…or suggesting…kneejerk, unthinking action. I’m talking about firm, proactive decision-making that says to those around you, “I’ve weighed the pros and cons, and this is what we’re going to do…now…not talk about…later”
Next comes “confidence.” This tells others that you believe in what you’re suggesting. It may not be the most popular decision, but it is your decision. You made it. You believe it’s the right thing to do. And it’s going to happen.
Finally, there’s “transparency.” You make it clear to those around you…subordinates as well as peers…your rationale for having made the decision to take this action. Nothing breeds distrust more than a piecemeal feeding of “why.”
(*Note to the quibblers…there are other attributes. I know. These are my top three.)
Leadership is about just that…leading. People follow/obey leaders because they believe in their ability to make the right decision for the right reasons.
One of my favorite “old sayings” from my long-ago military days went like this:
“Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
Are you a leader? Or are you just in charge??