The mark of a leader

During my stay at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas I stumbled across some good books they have in the room and did some cross reading. When back home we talked a bit of that leading up to this post.


There’s in my mind a clear difference between great managers and great leaders. Leaders have a clear vision. They know where they want the organisation to be in 5 or 10 years. To make that happen they can describe this future place in vivid colours, make others feel the vibrance of the new we, or even smell and taste this visionary goal. Managers in comparison make things happen by taking one step at a time, organising resources, removing roadblocks and simply get things done. This is a different skill.


Having a vision is necessary for a leader. You need to know where you want to lead your charges. It is not sufficient to get you there. There will be plenty of hurdles, distractions, and set backs. Just imagine when you wanted your first car. Yes, you could see yourself riding in a shiny cabriolet with chrome and leather seats. So, what were you prepared to do to getting it? This is desire! How much freedom you would give up to achieve your vision tells you your level of desire. Are you prepared to work extra hours, learn and study at night, get up early for a run, or take a big risk to get there? Great leaders will find a way to do it. Great leaders are the first of the block. They don’t wait until the cow paths are paved. Columbus had the idea to find India by crossing the Atlantic ocean. He had a vision, he had the desire, and he discovered America. He was wrong.


And that leads to a third trait of great leaders. They are not perfect. They make mistakes as everybody else. But they own up to it. It became pretty fast clear for Columbus that he did not find a shorter way to India. And on his return he did not hide his mistake. Columbus was a great leader. Now he, you might say, had little choice. What about when nobody is looking? Who would ever know? I think that is what integrity entails, doing the right thing even when nobody is around to witness. There is always one who would know – that is you.


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