Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Leadership Jazz – 2

Max DePree in his great leadership book, “Leadership Jazz” has some excellent thoughts regarding a leader’s promises.

“Though I’m still learning things about being a leader, I can tell you at least two requirements of such a position:  The need to give one’s witness as a leader—to make your promises to the people who allow you to lead; and the necessity of carrying out your promises.

“Followers can’t afford leaders who make casual promises.  Someone is likely to take them seriously.

“For no leader has the luxury of making a promise in a vacuum.

“A leader who backs away from her promises under duress irreparably damages the organization and plants the seeds of suspicion among her followers.

“The best leaders promise only what’s worth defending.

“It’s important to understand that leadership is a posture of indebtedness.  The process of leading is the process of fulfilling commitments made both to persons and to the organization.

“Knowing what not to do is fully as important as knowing what to do.

“Remember to think of followers as volunteers.  Remember, too, that the goals of the organization are best met when the goals of people in the organization are met at the same time.

“Here are several questions that leaders should expect to hear.  The answers to these questions, you see, are some of the promises leaders will make.

  • What may I expect from you?
  • Can I achieve my own goals by following you?
  • Will I reach my potential by working with you?
  • Can I entrust my future to you?
  • Have you bothered to prepare yourself for leadership?
  • Are you ready to be ruthlessly honest?
  • Do you have the self-confidence and trust to let me do my job?
  • What do you believe?”

If you are a verbal processor you can unintentionally make promises that you never intended.  As a leader your words carry extra weight and your thoughts expressed are assumed to be decisions.  You did not intend your words as final, just talking and thinking aloud, but others remember and will quote you in the future.  Beware of communicating what to you are just thoughts in a process but others hear as final decisions.

Are you a faithful leader?  Are you faithful to your word?  Can you be counted on to do what you say you will do?

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One thought on “Leadership Jazz – 2

  1. My dear friend.

    What a gift these questions will be for discussing my next contribution. Very timely. Thanks.

    Tom

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