Two Faces of LeadershipThere are two faces of leadership.

One face looks forward – because leadership is about going somewhere.

That face of leadership focuses on questions like:

1. Where are we going?

2. Why? What is the purpose?

3. How will we get there? What are our key strategies?

4. What will guide our journey? What values will guide behavior and decision-making?

The other face of leadership looks back at who’s following – at building organizational capacity and ensuring people have what they need to move forward easily.

That face of leadership focuses on questions like:

1. What skills do people need and how can we support development?

2. What resources do people need? (e.g. budget, time, information, supplies) and how can we provide them?

3. How do we ensure aligned process and systems that move us forward instead of derailing our efforts?

Both faces are equally important.

Too many leaders are out of balance – focusing primarily on the future or primarily on their organization. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you lead? If your followers aren’t able to follow, who are you leading?

You need to look in both directions at the same time. Leadership is not sequential. It doesn’t work to simply identify direction and then focus solely on execution. Clarity of direction comes over time. And execution needs to be in the context of the ongoing clarification of vision.

Your character is the body of your leadership.

Your character is the embodiment of who you are, and both faces of leadership are held by it. Influential character is built on a foundation of integrity.

People follow leaders by choice. Without trust and respect, at best you will get compliance.

The arms and legs of leadership are the people on your team.

There is no movement without your people.  Remember the Afghan proverb:

If you think you’re leading and no one is following, then you’re only taking a walk.

Leadership requires other people. If you can do it alone, you don’t need to lead. Just go do it.

The smartest leadership action you can take is to involve your team in answering the questions facing both sides of leadership.

It’s not possible to answer these questions by yourself. The picture is too big to see it all. Too much is unknown.

You will get better answers by involving others.

And you’ll move forward more smoothly because those involved will have a greater understanding of the vision and how to get there, and they will feel a deeper sense of ownership and responsibility for success.


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