Leadership Through the Eyes of An Eagle

I recently had lunch with a young man, Joshua, who became Eagle Scout a little more than a decade ago. Knowing that he had earned this prestigious award, I asked him to tell me about the traits and skills that inspired him to say, “I choose to follow this leader.” Unsurprisingly, he told me that it was more a combination of things that would cause him to make this commitment. Here are a few of the things he cited.

  • The person is willing to lead – As a team member, Joshua looks at his co-members and asks, “who is willing to lead?”. It’s not always the person who was appointed by management. It is often another member of the team who is quietly guiding the group, offering suggestions and steering the group toward the desired outcome.
  • The person is knowledgeable – Joshua asks if the leader has knowledge of the concept; an understanding of the big picture and how the team’s undertakings fit into the ultimate goal? Is the individual able to acknowledge what he/she does not know? This last point captured my interest and Joshua elaborated by explaining that the leader does not have to be an expert; rather, must have a working knowledge and a willingness to ask for help in areas where he/she recognizes that another team member is more knowledgeable than he/she might be. When these characteristics are present, Joshua told me that he is comfortable following that individual’s lead.
  • The person seeks out and implements input from the entire group – When team members feel that they’ve had an opportunity to help shape the direction and course of a project, they have a sense of ownership. It is now their project and they want to see it through to a successful conclusion. “When I see a leader taking my input and placing it in the project,” said Joshua, “I double my efforts and willingly follow.”
  • The person communicates clearly – While recognizing that some information cannot be shared if confidentiality is to be maintained, the leader that Joshua follows never “keeps him in the dark” or withholds information that he needs to effectively do his job.
  • The person anticipates problems and points of conflict and steers a course to avoid them – Why deliberately walk into troubles? The leader that Joshua follows does his/her best to navigate a course that avoids the things that can tear a team apart. However, when the unexpected problems arise, and we all know they will, this leader efficiently and effectively shepherds the group through the problem and helps it keep its eyes on the ultimate goal. The leader does this with tact and diplomacy when possible; with determination and assertiveness when necessary. The Great Leader ensures that nothing is allowed to derail either the group or the project.

Whether these leadership roles are performed from the front of the group or the back of the room, the Great Leader, in Joshua’s mind, displays these traits and performs these acts to ensure the successful completion of the project and gives credit for success to the group as a whole.

Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Joshua!

Tom Hoisington is a speaker, trainer, and author whose goal is to provide leaders and potential leaders with tools that empower them to build teams that are creative and cost effective along with a clearer understanding of how personality types interact within those teams. He can be contacted at tom.hoisington@eagleoneresources.com

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