One of my colleagues recently presented me with a copy of Leadership for Dummies. I wasn't expecting much when I started to read it, but I was surprised to discover it was so compelling that I found it difficult to put down.
The book is co-authored by Marshall Loeb, former managing editor of Fortune andMoney magazines, and now an online columnist for Quicken.com and CBSmarketwatch.com. The other author is consultant Stephen Kindel, who has served as senior editor of Financial World magazine and Forbes, as well as associate editor at Newsweek International.
Like many of us, Loeb and Kindel have been around the track, and they know the importance of good leadership to any endeavor. They also have seen the tragedy of bad leadership and the devastation it wreaks on an organization and its personnel.
They outline the qualities of true leaders, suggesting you may want to get to know people with these characteristics and even help them on their way:
- Eagerness. I like this word, even though it isn't often used anymore. Eagerness denotes someone who wants to get involved, someone who looks upon his or her work as an opportunity to do more.
- Cheerfulness. Putting a smile on your face makes everyone feel better and improves productivity. Many leaders seem so engrossed in their own troubles they don't take into consideration others look to them for inspiration.
- Honesty. This requires leaders to be direct and on-the-level with others. If a leader isn't honest, that gets around pretty darn fast, and then distrust and sagging productivity become commonplace.
- Resourcefulness. Leaders seem to know how to get things done, no matter what the circumstances. They always seem to be able to make lemonade out of lemons. They also make sure their people have the resources to get things done.
- Persuasiveness. Leaders know what they want and make sure you understand where they are headed. Simply put, they are super sales people, full of conviction and enthusiasm. That's a tough combination to beat.
- Cooperation. Leaders have confidence in their own abilities to negotiate. They realize that being confrontational is neither productive nor smart. They know that by cooperating they usually can get things done faster.
- Placing the needs of their people ahead of their own. In my opinion, this is the critical ingredient for any true leader. Truly great leaders give of themselves so their people can do their jobs freely. They don't go around saying "me." Instead, they say "us" or "you." They are leader-servants to a fault. They know that without the people who work for them, they are nothing and consequently make sure their people know how valued they are. Altruism is the word the authors use in the book to describe this trait.
I found Leadership for Dummies to be practical and down to earth. The conclusions are not just for those who want to become the chief executive officer. The authors make eminently good sense for anyone with the desire to take the lead.
Read and lead, Charles S. Lauer Publisher