The capacity to make vision reality.

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  • Post last modified:April 19, 2022
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What it takes to lead

Have you ever wonder what makes an great leader? There are a number of traits you might call to mind, though what traits those happen to be might depend on what leader you call to mind: Hitler, Gandhi, Bush, Martin Luther King Jr, Mao, Clinton, or Lincoln were all leaders, but seemingly much different people. What ties these different people and personalities toegther under the same unbrealla? While there characters differ, there is one thing they share in common and it’s what makes anyone an leader: they had followers. Since humans are an social species, our social alliances have long been key to our ability to survive and reproduce over our evolutionary history. While having people around willing to do what you want is important t, this perspective on what makes a leader—possessing followers—turns the question of what makes a great leader on its head: rather than asking about what characteristics make one a great leader, you might instead ask what characteristics make one an attractive social target for followers. After all, while it may be good to have support but you need to understand why people are willing to support others in the first place to truly understand the matter.

What motivates people to lead

So why would someone want to be a leader? There are four different kinds of motivations that come into play: affective identity, calculative non calculative motivation and social normative. affective identity comes from an actual enjoyment while calculative non calculative involves the extent to which an individual weighs the costs and benefits of taking on a leadership role. Leadership has its benefits and its burdens. A person high on non-calculative motivation to lead, doesn’t much consider the costs and benefits. Someone with a social normative has the feeling of obligation to lead. For example, other people might call on you or nominate you to take on a leadership position, and that social pressure motivates you to lead. Of course these of aren’t the only only motivators for leadership as power can be a strong motivator [often times for the wrost types of leaders]. In fact the motivation for power can be used to distinguish good from bad leaders. If someone is motivated by personal power (what’s in it for the leader), this is often the slippery slope can make them a bad leader. Socialized power involves the leader using her or his power to help benefit followers.

so what makes a bad leader?

To see what makes a what makes a bad leader lets look at some of the cheap tactics they use to dominate followers. The first the they will use is the in group, out group bias.  This is sometimes called the “we-they feeling.” It is really easy for bad leaders  to use this cheap psychological trick to motivate followers and to build follower commitment and solidarity. Pharses like “We are the good guys; they are the bad guys.” “We are right, they are wrong.” “They represent a threat to our way of life; we must preserve it.” are used often in poltics, partisan politics and rival street gangs which esclates animosity on both sides, ignoring similarities and magnifying differences. This gives the bad short term advantage but of the price of long term costs. It is very diffcult for when two groups need to work together in the future. It can bring out the wrost in human nature. After bad leaders use we and they tactics they demand absolute obedience to authority. such statements as “Becuase I’m boss you must obey me” are toxic becuase studies shown people will show blind obedience to an authority even to the point as going far as provide provide dangerous shocks to innocent victims. When a leader demands absolute obedience its a warning sign of bad leadership. As children we are thought to never question authority and some people will easily submit and blindy follow. Leaders that don’t consult with thier followers or share any power is not only a bad leader, but one that will be ineffective in long run. Demanding absolute authority can lead to the use of threats and punishments. Punishment is just simply an bad and ineffectove leadership tactic, it does nothing to encourage postive and productive behavoir. People who are punished or threaten feel resentment and want to go back at the source of punishment. Threats will only be effective if an leader is willing to follow through, otherwise it will be seen as an empty threat and leader will lose control. However with absolute obedience bad leaders can make excpetions or play favourites. They can make exception that they and thier favourites are exception to the rules with favourites being picked not from skill but becuase they suck up to the leader the most. Bad leaders believe due to thier importance or position that the rules don’t apply to them and they are above them, becuase of this they use thier power for self serving ends, letting power go to their heads and do things which are in thier best interests without considering the interests of the group.  Bad leaders not only hurt their followers, causing them to be dissatisfied, stressed out and angry, but there are also negative consequences for the organization as followers of bad leaders seek to leave the organization, and they may also act out in counterproductive ways (e.g., sabotage, slacking off, etc.).

If bad leaders are toxic why do people follow them?

With 50 countries being lead by dictators over a quater of all the nations of the world are dictatorships. So what is a big part of problem? The big part of the problem is becuase we really don’t know how to pick good leaders, due to psychological biases and trying to serve our own self interests rather than the greater good, becuase of this we value the wrong leadership qualities. Most of us want strong confiedent leaders but often too many of us confuse arrogance and narcassism for strenght. That is wrong. Reasearch shows people that are arrogant and narcisstic are wrost leaders. Bad leaders are convinced that they are right, rarely take counsel, and don’t learn from their mistakes. After we confuse arrogance and narcissism for strength we equate effectiveness with being a good leader, becuase of this we place great value on results but fail to consider how those results were obtained (i.e., “the ends justify the means”). This often leads people to crave power. People who follow bad leaders enable them and assit them, allowing them to get into positions of power, and supporting their misdeeds. All too often, folllowers look to and support the leaders who will give them what they want, rather than what the country or organization needs. Becuase of the promise of sharing power bad followers (“henchmen”) are drawn to bad leaders which only leads to another generation of bad leaders. People who follow bad leaders don’t ever hold them accountable, they blindly place them on a pedestal and assume that they will do the right thing.  All too often we give leaders “a pass” instead of holding them accountable.  Or, we allow leaders to be above the rules (“he/she can do it BECAUSE he/she is the leader”).  Finally, we “settle” too easily.  Instead of seeking out the very best leader, we “make due” with the poor leader candidates that we have.

What makes a good leader then?

The first quality and trait that a good leader must have to have is humility. Humilty allows good leaders to know they are not not always right, need input from others and continuosly learn and improve as leaders. Having humility enables emotional expressiveness which  allows emphasize emotion in your communications which is particularly important when trying to motivate followers, and when making presentations. The expression of positive affect and enthusiasm from this is critical. great leaders that have humilty are careful to to the morally right thing striving to represent all of their constituents, not just those who they favor. Being able to effectively make discions means being thorough and unbiased, especially for decisions important to both performance and people. When good leaders achieve results they always limit collateral damage, making sure they achieve results at the cost of hurting the well-being of followers or turning friends into foe, accepting any mistakes they make and take ownership/responsbility, knowing that taking responsibility can be liberating. This makes an leader authentic, true leaders never need to say they are authentic becuase they have an good understanding of who they are, how they want to be precived as well as what they inspire to be. Often authenticitiy creates servant leadership. Many of us think of a leader as the person in charge – the decision maker, the authority, the person who tells us when to jump and how high but the best and true leaders serve the people. Being able to respond well to concerns allows conceptualization, letting good leaders utilize thier experience and the resources provided by the organization to help solve problems which creates value for the community, that is rather than focusing on the outcomes for the leader and the followers, a good leader leader is concerned about having a positive impact on the larger community, helping thier followers grow and suceed. There are times when leaders are faced with tough situations so they need to be able to rein in strong emotions by giving themselves time to think and acknowledge thier feelings so they can think what they can realisticly do about an situation. However those alone is not enough to be an leader. The first misconception people have being leader = boss. Being a leader is not a position but a wide range of actions that anyone anywhere– who is willing– can exhibit.  The second, believing that “what it takes” to be a leader means having certain traits—for example, chrisma, grit or empathy can can convince people that it’s pointless to try to lead because leadership isn’t in their DNA which is becuase becuase good leadership  leadership depends on how people think and behave—and we all can make conscious choices about what we do.  Understanding this can help people and organizations break out of self-limiting mindsets, and help leaders learn and grow

There are few mistakes people will make as leaders. The first mistake people would make as leader is overemphasizing personality traits. While it may be true that some personality traits correlate with with how good an leader is it doesn’t tell the whole story. An great example is Chrisma We are drawn to people with charisma, and leaders often wish they had more of it. However, it’s substance—that is, relevant knowledge, strategic thinking, effective decision making—that more concretely builds trust and respect over time, not a particular style becuase emphasizing style over substance eventually leads to failure. Moreover, charisma seems to be a very rare blessing; they tend to envy those born with those traits. But fact is charisma comes from behaving in ways that anyone can display: having a compelling vision (which emerges through effort, not being born with it), communicating it effectively, and conveying enthusiasm for the pursuit. It also comes from talking more about sucess rather than failure, showing confidence in the team  and doing unique, impactful things that people talk about.  All of these are learnable, upon setting one’s mind to doing so. Another mistake people will make as leader is prioritizing micro-tactics over strategic mindsets. When faced with a particular leadership challenge, and we can search “How to X” to find suggested step-by-step micro-tactics. Unfortunately people forget to have the right mindset. For example, perhaps the broadest and most essential categories of leader behaviors are task-focused that is ensuring that the work done and done well, people-focused that is showing personal consideration and helping people grow and thrive, and decision making, including how much input you seek and allow from others (ranging from autocratic to democratic with many variations in between). Its important to pay attention to both the people and the work. As well try to think hard about the processes you use to make decisions. Good leaders develop a wide variety of methods, sometimes they make decisions autocratically when being thorough and unbiased, especially for decisions important to both performance and people while other times devote extra time and effort to more participative approaches becuase they need other viewpoints and need people to become fully committed to the actions chosen. If you prefer democracy, learn to be decisive when most appropriate. If you trend autocratic, learn how to be more participative. Other than focusing on micro tactics another mistake leaders will make is highlighting relationships while reglecting impact. Since by definition, leadership is an interpersonal endeavor, so relationships surely matter. Bad relationships is a two-way streets as both parties contribute. Bosses’ contributions can include abusive actions stemming in part from what’s called personality’s “dark triad”: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.  People in a position of leadership should at least be able to avoid such tendencies and the toxic relationships that can result.  On the positive side, new research identifies a “light triad” of mindsets that can powerfully enrich better-known relationship-enhancers like empathy and servant leadership.  This triad entails believing in people’s inherent goodness (faith in humanity), valuing the dignity and worth of every individual (humanism), and treating people as ends in themselves rather than means to achieve other purposes (Kantianism). If you enact these broad perspectives, you’ll connect with others and form meaningful, lasting relationships. However good relationship alone does no make an leader great. Its important for leaders with and through other people, deliver results. Trying to presue this goal energetically can be exhuasting as there can be long term costs (exhaustion, anger, accidents, and performance breakdowns) so leaders should strive for overall impact, which implies a greater breadth of sustained positive outcomes. hmm


1. does everyone have what it takes to be a good leader? what makes an good leader?
2. does everyone have the capacity to make vision reality? If so what keeps the vision hard to keep?
3. what is the best quality of an leader?
4. Can anyone gain chrisma?
5. what would be the wrost quality of an bad leader?
6. how can we tell the difference if an leader is picking a team of top performers or just picking favourites? what would the fine line of this?
7. what does it take an leader to admit they have wronged? what does it take for them to take ownership/responsibility?