Leaders’ Leader

Leaders’ leaders stand out from the rest. Somehow their contributions affect large groups and move organizations toward something better, yet they function for the most part, outside of organizations. The changes they bring are more like leaps than the small steps most use. They think of the world in large terms — they work for institutions or societies or cultures not for individuals. Leaders work to bring the special and creative gifts of these people to bear on the efforts of the group.

Once a leader decides to accept this kind of responsibility, we can define the process quickly.

We would call it a search for beneficial surprise. Traditional education does not prepare us for this. We must search for a creative productiveness, a compost heap of experience and ideas, experiments and failures and successes that will bring about the changes and improvements we need.

How does a leader approach the process of creative work? A leader first makes a personal commitment to be hospitable to gifted people. A leader protects unusual persons from the bureaucracy and legalism so ensconced in our organizations.

A leader remains vulnerable to real surprise and to true quality. Surprise here means – something totally unexpected. It may also mean a new level of quality, one that might not have considered before. Neither of these things is easy: really great ideas shake up organizations.

Creative work needs the ethos of jazz. A leader will pick the tune, set the tempo, and start the music define a ‘style’

After that, it is up to the band to be disciplined and free, wild, and restrained – leaders and followers, focused and wide ranging playing the music for the audience and accountable to the requirements of the band.

Jazz-band leaders know how to integrate the “voices” in the band without diminishing their uniqueness. The individuals in the band are expected to play sole and together.


Hard driving business managers are often too suspicious to abandon themselves to the consequences of real delegation. They trap themselves into dumping rather than delegating. Delegation is one of the ways for a leader to connect voice and touch. It is precious way of enabling people to participate, to grow to reach their potential.

Delegation is one way of dealing with the increasing complexity in organizations. It seems to me that it is impossible for a modern day organization to reach its potential until, through delegation a leader brings to bear the diverse gifts of many individuals.

It seems that diversity consists of our individual gifts and that the spectrum of gifts gives organizations strength. Every leader has limitations no one person can be all things to the organization.

Any leader who limits the organization to the talents and time of the leader seriously handicaps the group.

Assuming that the process of delegation is like most of a leader’s work which depends heavily on the quality of our relationship. We become corporately effective by trusting that others can do some things better than us. This is a risk, of course, in terms of the organizations, but it is a natural and essential risk.

Delegation requires a form of dying a separation of issue from self. We must surrender or abandon ourselves to the gifts that other people bring to the game. We must become vulnerable to every person’s need to do their best.

Delegation requires that a leader clearly state the corporate vision, a vision to be fully shared and discussed and scrutinized. Only then can leaders enroll followers in advocacy.

We must believe in “acceptance” and not “agreement”. In organizations even if we do not completely agree, we have to accept a broad direction so that we become advocates and allow the organization to do its job.

What do delegates need? First, they need to know their authority and accountability. They need to know who, what and when of the project and not the how – that is what the delegate brings.

They need all the information the leader has and the sum of a leader’s wisdom regarding the project. The delegate also needs to have certain agreements with a leader. Together they will define reality, establish the validity of the mission understand and accept the work to be done.

They need to state their goals. They need to come to terms about the potential for growth and the way to measure performance. Last, but not least, they need to discuss failure.

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