Leadership: more onus

There is a dichotomy of leadership in that sometimes our reports want us to lead and yet also resent being lead.
In general, those we lead feel a security if we are confident, decisive and involved; but of course this is tempered by the possibly-human nature to be critical of others: our reports will always find some fault in us or our leadership. And that’s all right.
Any leadership requires a thick skin… but not a thick head. That is, we must we able to withstand criticism – founded and unfounded – but we must not become stubborn in our own expertise or rightness. It’s a game of balance, flexibility and quick adjustment.

Have you ever had the pleasure of receiving feedback on a leader both from their supervisor and from their reports? Fascinating, isn’t it? Their supervisor and reports each have a different matrix of success – what right looks like. And difficulty can arrive when both matrixes are divergent, with no intersection.

Now, if you know me, you know that I put the onus on you, the leader, to tailor your message to meet each party’s needs. You impress your supervisor and assist them in their path, while also leading your reports in theirs. And, if done well, through this realistic process, you will get done the real work of the organization. How many times have you witnessed a leader whose first loyalty is to their reports? Lencioni would argue that a leader must first strive for that which is best for the organization. Finding this a bit na├»ve, I would state that a leader must realistically recognize the dynamics, goals, skills and difficulties of those around them, attending to the needs of their organization while simultaneously directing their own growth.

Let me re-state:

* We, all of us, are individuals with our own goals, skills, pressures and difficulties.

* There is always a greater depth whereby to complete the work before us.

* A leader must direct relationships with their reports as well as their supervisor.

* A leader must direct their own growth.

* And in all this, if done well, a leader will accomplish the effective work.

Photos: My dear friend, Andrei and his sister and myself, trekking on the Lena River in Yakutsk, Siberia.


  1. Hmmm. Might this be connected to...MARKETING, also? Instead of reports and supervisors, I have readers, students, parents, schools. But perhaps a writer is called to simply be a leader. Will have to think about this.

  2. Thanks, Christina!

    Yes, Katherine, a nice complement to our earlier conversation.


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