As I have watch the debacle over increasing the debt limit in Washington, I have been reminded once again of people’s desire to be led. We want and we need to have someone who is brave enough to step forward and say, “I have a vision of where we should be going, I’ll share that with you and if you choose to join me I’ll lead us towards that vision”. Did you read Watership Down? Among many other themes present, it is a book about leadership, about the need people have for someone to take the reins and give us direction in our lives.
I bring this up not only because of the debt limit debate but because of interactions I have observed in may dental offices through the years. I sat in on a staff meeting a few years ago and I wrote an article on that meeting which you can view here. In that article I describe how members of this office beg the doctor to give them direction. The doctor ignores their wishes, she isn’t brave enough to make a commitment to her employees and the office continues to flounder. I write frequently on leadership and I try to “teach” it in the practice management course I give at the university. You can’t, of course, “teach” leadership. You can coach it; you can teach the elements of it, or perhaps better put, the elements that you believe constitute it. But being a good leader is more of a process than an event. You can’t be named a leader, or rather you can, but it means nothing.
I often wonder, does it take a crisis to make a good leader; does a difficult situation cause some people to rise to the occasion and accept the responsibility for guidance? I think that this is true in many cases, but not necessarily needed. Good leaders develop because they want to become a good leader. They read about leadership, they study its principles and concepts and they develop those traits that good leaders possess.
Good leaders are good listeners
Good leaders are people of defined action after careful consideration.
They are not impulsive
They are not braggarts
They are moral
They are ethical, (are morality and ethics the same?)
Good leaders care about people
I believe that a good leader must appeal to people’s intellect as well as their emotions. That is, they need to lead from the bottom up, (emotions) and from the top down, (intellect). If a person can achieve both of these goals then they can effectively appeal to most people.