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Face The Challenge - Sample Section, Chapter 5

Chapter Five - Attitudes and Personal Growth

"Attitudes, Image, and Growth" investigates in greater depth the essential principles and behaviors of a successful leadership philosophy and how a Leader's general attitude, principles, or behavior impacts his or her Subordinates. It increases the reader's awareness of the ever important role that the Leader's fundamental leadership philosophy and behaviors play in his or her motivational success; and how one's leadership attitudes are continually evolving.


5.1 Crossing the Line.  Early in every Leader's career he or she must once and for all decide to cross the line that separates those who implement the ideas of others from those who would decide what others will implement.  And as a healthy child strives to pass from adolescence into adulthood, those who are driven to play a leading role in their ultimate destiny must also accept full responsibility for their own actions as well as for the actions of their Subordinates.  Though once having crossed this line, these intrepid souls will no longer be able to enjoy the same level of comradeship or intimacy with their former peers either formally or informally ever again.  From this point forward, the source of a Leader's interpersonal effectiveness or credibility is no longer based upon his or her social popularity; but on whether he or she is respected for his or her decision making judgment, personal behavior, and motivational ability.  As a result, many leadership inductees experience considerable trepidation during this transition period and must be prepared to deal with the foreseeable emotional consequences (e.g., anxiety, increased loneliness, lack of appreciation, or loss of intimacy).  Predictably, individuals who derive a disproportionate amount of their own self-worth from what others think about them will have much greater difficulty crossing this life-defining boundary than those who are more independent-minded or who have a more highly developed level of self-esteem.  This emotional challenge stems from various sources, including: (i) directing one's Subordinates to do tasks for which few would eagerly volunteer, (ii) facing the inevitable conflicts between achieving productivity standards and actual Subordinate performance, (iii) enduring ill-feelings that may arise from denying requests, making tough decisions, or selecting one Subordinate over another, or  (iv) losing much of the goodwill or camaraderie of those with whom the Leader had been closely associated.  The acceptance of a leadership role thus has its costs against which each individual must personally weigh the potential benefits; as it is impossible for any Leader to successfully straddle this line.  For Leaders, in contrast to their Subordinates, must ultimately slay all the dragons obstructing their path; and be decidedly more concerned about generating a larger community pie than receiving a disproportionately greater share of that pie for themselves (Drucker, PM p270).  Consequently, "the leader can never close the gap between himself [herself] and the group.  If he [she] does, he [she] is no longer what he [she]  must be.  He [she] must walk a tightrope between the consent he [she] must win and the control he [she] must exert" (Vincent Thomas Lombardi, American Football Coach, 1913-1970) in order to achieve the desired results.  As "…it is a mistake for an officer [Leader] ever to grow too familiar with his [her] men [Subordinates], no matter how good they are; and it is of course the greatest possible mistake to seek popularity either by showing weakness or by mollycoddling the men [Subordinates].  They will never respect a commander [Leader] who does not enforce discipline, who does not know his [her] duty, and who is not willing both himself [herself] to encounter and to make them encounter every species of danger and hardship when necessary" (T. Roosevelt, TRR p118) to ultimately do whatever is required to get the job done.

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Copyright 2006 by H. Garrett Hayward from Face the Challenge: The Leader's Success Handbook