Why leadership is NOT a virtue

Red toolbox with the words "What's in your toolbox?"“Leadership is a tool, not a value, and effective leaders can be abhorrent forces in the world. I try to remind myself never to say admiringly that someone is a great leader. Instead I try to be more specific. Not all great leaders are leaders for good.”
~ Ryan Derousseau

This is one of my favorite quotes because it makes a crucially important point: in and of itself, leadership is not inherently good.

It’s who we are as leaders that makes the difference.

As a leader, how do you impact the people around you? How do you influence them to succeed or fail? Are you inspiring them to do their best, or are they just getting by?

What’s their experience of your leadership? How do they feel when they go home after a day as your employee or team member?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou

As I wrote recently on LinkedIn, all too often, people are thrust into a leadership role without the support they need to understand what that really means, or to discover who they want to be as a leader.

At its best, leadership is intentional and values-driven.

At its worst, it’s destructive.

Most often, while usually well-intentioned, it’s unconscious.


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