Heros and Leadership

Not too long ago, my mother mended one of my niece’s quilts, and just like magic, the worn spot was fixed. My sister asked my niece if grandma was her hero. And, with the innate wisdom of a three year old, my niece responded, “She not a hero, she just a good grandma”.

And that is the point of this post. In our efforts to be all visionary, all “leader-like”, our culture has inflated every day acts into heroic acts. Perhaps this is a result of our growing need to matter, in response to the growing impact of media of all kinds in our lives. Much of what we do falls into the category of every-day, ho-hum stuff. Not that this stuff isn’t important, just that it is routine. And routine will not get the promotion or recognition that we desire.

A couple of years ago in this blog, I noted that most of what I do is not “leadership”. Leaders are pretty much useless without effective followers who make stuff happen. I’m okay with being the follower who makes the vision happen.

Leadership has increasingly become the panacea for all things wrong with our society, precisely at a time when leaders of all stripes, political, business, community, have less control and ability to influence a more and more complex and tangled world. We continue to apply the leadership solution before diagnosing the problem.

I wonder if what we really need is effectiveness, no matter the role. The challenge for our organizations is to learn how to work together effectively in our highly complex, mediated world, to learn how to diagnose problems and how to understand each other. No one leader, no matter how heroic, no matter how visionary, can do this.

I’m not looking for a hero. I’m just looking for a good contributor. How about you?


Categories: Leadership

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