Concepts of Leadership What defines leadership? There are literally hundreds of definitions listed in nearly as many sources. Most are specific to their genre, but a generalized consensus is: “the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal.”
Are leaders made or born? Today most agree that leadership can be learned through self-study, education, training, and experience, but they also agree the skills and knowledge possessed by a leader can be influenced by their own attributes, such as beliefs, values, ethics, and character.
I have come to the conclusion that the three key elements of good leadership are trustworthiness, the ability to communicate a clear vision for the organization and the ability to activate the energies and talents available to realize that vision.
As a president, one is given authority in an organization to accomplish certain tasks, but this power does not make one a true leader. True leaders cause those in the organization to want to achieve higher goals: they are inspired and influenced to do great things. People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction, are ethical and possess a sense of purpose. They want to know if one leads by example or in today’s vernacular “walks the walk, not just talks the talk.”
The basis of good leadership is honorable character and selfless service to the organization. In the eyes of the members, their leader is measured by his or her actions that affect the organization’s objectives and their sense of well-being. Paraphrasing from a US Army document on Military Leadership, respected leaders concentrate on:
What they are (be) – beliefs and character
What they know – job, tasks, human nature
What they do – implementing, motivating, providing direction
The Be-Know-Do Leadership Framework is listed here:
BE a professional. Examples: Be loyal to the organization, perform selfless service and take personal responsibility.
BE a professional who possesses good character traits. Examples: Honesty, competence, candor, commitment, integrity, courage, straightforwardness and imagination.
KNOW yourself. Examples: Strengths and weakness of your character, knowledge and skills.
KNOW human nature. Examples: Human needs, emotions and how people respond to stress.
KNOW your job. Examples: Be proficient and be able to train others in their tasks.
KNOW your organization. Examples: Where to go for help, its climate and culture, who the unofficial leaders are.
DO provide direction. Examples: Goal setting, problem solving, decision making, planning.
DO implement. Examples: Communicating, coordinating, supervising and evaluating.
DO motivate. Examples: Develop morale and esprit de corps in the organization, train, coach and counsel.
Our International College of Dentists is made up of leaders. Fellows were invited to the ICD based, in part, on their leadership roles in one of the many Pathways to Fellowship. This information was provided to give you something to gauge yourself against. A variety of sources were researched in compiling this material and a full bibliography is available if interested. Some authors were borrowed from directly or in edited version. Many words are underlined. This was intentional. They all represent attributes of great leadership.
Every Fellow in ICD was “invited to Fellowship” for the same reason – our peers recognized our leadership potential. I challenge each of you to develop and utilize your potential for your personal growth and that of the International College of Dentists. We have many areas where individual Fellows could serve their College. Start at your local level. Participate in your Section’s projects and philanthropies. Sponsor a new Fellow. Volunteer to serve on Committees. Meet with a small group of Fellows from your immediate area over lunch or dinner to discuss how you could improve your community through your combined talents. There are so many ways to tap the “Leader” that exists in each of you. Let it surface and shine!
THIS AND THAT… Every person in ICD is a Fellow of the College. We are “equals among peers.” There is no “them” and “us.” We are all on the same page and all in ICD together.
Charles L. Siroky, International President
Downloads: Presidential Notes April 2011 (PDF format 84 KB )