Thursday, March 31, 2011

What is the Greatest Challenge Facing Leaders?

At the blog, Linked 2 Leadership (see Marcia Witte asked the question, “What do you consider to be the greatest leadership challenge facing leaders today - and how best might they meet the challenge?”

There are some thoughtful answers from six different leadership gurus. Two write about engaging the teams they are leading by getting out of their offices and getting commitment from their follower-ship. Others write about dealing with challenges, skepticism, building trust and creating balance.

I believe the toughest challenge facing leaders today is “walking-your-talk.” A leader must be very clear about his or her values, what he or she stands for, what he or she will not stand for. I suggest writing this down and making this a dynamic document. Refer to this document regularly. Share this document with those whom you are leading and be willing to ask on a regular, ongoing basis, “How am I doing?” Get input from your mentor, your significant other and even your children! “Walking-your-talk” will impact and influence one’s follower-ship. As Kouzes and Posner point out in their best selling book, The Leadership Challenge, “modeling the way” has greater impact on an organization’s bottom-line than good customer service!

I was deeply saddened to read about Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s NCAA violation. I have referred to Tressel’s leadership video, Beyond the Sidelines: Lessons in Leadership from Coach Jim Tressel. While I forgive him for his bad behavior, I am wondering if his message can have the same impact on future viewers.

I am currently reading Jim Wallis best selling book, Rediscovering Values. Wallis challenges the reader not to waste this crisis and to re-examine what is really important. A moral recovery is more important than an economic recovery. This is a matter of the heart, not one’s pocketbook.

What are your values? What do you stand for? Are your values principled? Will you be lead by principled values at the time of crisis and conflict? It’s at the times of crisis and conflict where character is revealed, not developed!


Stan said...

1- realizing they are in positions of leadership rather than management

2- not tripping over their egos and arrogance (as described in Jim Collins' latest book "How the Mighty Fall")

3- "There are no leaders, there is only leadership." Richard Farson in Management of the Absurd

Carrpe Diem! said...

C.F. emailed...

I think today's leader have a monumental challenge. That is walking the talk on values as you said, while motivating their followers to join in, while still reaching the expected outcomes for the organization. Any one of those legs of the stool is important. Working on achieving all three is the most difficult job of a leader. At least that is my opinion.

Chris Florence said...

I think that another challenge is inspiring those that are being lead to allow their passions to show through their work.

David, I do agree with what you said as well. The difficult problem with identifying the greatest challenge is that leadership is so vast in scope it isn't always so cut and dry.

Chris Florence

Carrpe Diem! said...


A leader can inspire others to work in their passion by "walking-their-talk". I am where I am today because of my father and his "walking-his-talk." He was my inspiration. As he use to remind me, "Its better to be the head of a herring than the tail of a whale!"

Ageed that it's difficult to say what the greatest challenge is facing a leader. There were 6 different opinions in the Linked to Leadership blog. I merely added a 7th! Feel free to add yours.

Carrpe Diem!