Good leaders aren’t perfect

Merriam Webster online defines leadership three ways: 1. a position as a leader of a group, organization, etc; 2. capacity to lead; 3. the power or ability to lead other people (Leadership). Each of those definitions represents completely different things.

When I was younger I used to think occupying the position of a leader within a group meant you were a leader. I believed that simply being the captain of a sports team, the principal at the school, fire chief or police chief meant you were the “leader.” But does occupying a position as a leader mean the individual possesses leadership skills?

The second definition simply says the “capacity to lead.” How many people do you know that you believe have an innate and natural capacity to be a leader but don’t occupy a position as a “leader.” Does that mean they aren’t leaders?

The last one is the biggie. Does power make a leader? If a person occupies a position with a lot of power, examples of which could be the Governor; President; local police chief or elected sheriff; and their leadership comes from their power, are they truly leaders or are they simply leading through coercion?

All of us have seen or experienced leaders whose leadership ability was only that which came from the title of their position. We all know someone who should lead but doesn’t. Lastly, many of us have probably worked for a boss whose leadership style was through coercion.

My definition of leadership is all of the above, none of the above, and much more. Being a leader means recognizing your organizations place in the community, or business environment, and understanding how to maintain that place. It means empowering your stakeholders, both internal and external, to help your organization fulfill its vision and mission while keeping an eye on the future for any changes or adjustments that may need to be made.

Leadership also means taking responsibility when things go wrong. One of my favorite quotes about responsibility is from M. Scott Peck. He is quoted as saying “The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior.” Mistakes are inevitable and good leaders will accept responsibility and will not avoid the pain.

Good leaders aren’t perfect. They don’t have to be experts in their field or business. They are; however, very adept at recognizing needs and figuring out a way to fulfill that need.

Leadership Butler (LB) provided me with training and experience that influenced my view of leadership and gave me tools I otherwise did not have. I am very grateful for the experience I had and the friends I have made throughout Butler County as a result. The LB “leg” of my continuing leadership journey continues to propel me down that road and influence my view of leadership today.

Robert Sage, Chief of Police in Rose Hill, Leadership Butler Class of 2003