Letter: Leadership or education

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Dear Sir:

Human beings, with proper guidance, are capable of four main roles: developing, inspiring, administering and building. The popular use of the word ‘leadership’ is contained in and among all these roles.

Noting that, such roles are temporary, not a full personality trait, forming only a part of an individual’s existence. Persons having achieved some recognition of success often did so by transferring and delegating leadership. Confidence, in developed talents, skills and abilities, are much greater attributes.

Life’s main roles offer and bring individuals a measure of success. The developer role endeavours to invent and innovate. The inspirer role attempts to visualize and create. The administrator role is to monitor and report. The builder role is to construct and assemble.

Leadership can and must exist at every level of an organizational structure. From the cleaning crew, to the boardroom, switched periodically, back and forth, between experienced and abilities. In the boardroom, for example, thinking that the chair is the smartest in the room, maybe right, because the chair must recognize the strengths of others and know when to call on that expertise. Similarly, on the cleaning crew, someone plans the works, but then leadership is delegated to tasks supervisors.

Now that is leadership, while the selected expert is leading that agenda item or specified task. Is not this also true on any team, organization or nation?

An individual’s existence is much more than these necessary roles. Personality, character or nature are important features that will permeate behaviour and turn decision-making into leadership.

However, it’s education, which allows the calculation, analysis and communication, to bring others on board, towards a shared objective. It is not limited to a type of person.

To design an industrial plant involves an accomplished architect. To work out project plans requires a person exposed to project management. To oversee resources entails someone qualified in administration. To assign work orders needs an individual trained and with years of practice in construction. All with leadership skills and responsibilities.

Leadership training, skills and techniques would be misapplied to persons without the pertinent background. Hence, leadership in developing, inspiring, administering and building or for example, even in captaining a sport team, cannot be easily transferred or delegated to sport management or other project teams without the appropriate education.

This circles back to the question asked by Kristofer Granger on LinkedIn. “We have such a big leadership problem. I’m sharing this for anyone who’s in a leadership position. Please take a long hard look at yourself. You might be the problem.”

This firstly may refer to leadership as being limited to top paid decision-makers. Leadership can and must exist at all levels of life and in society, transferred and delegated back and forth among several persons and positions. Hence, this question or criticism is more about (education) wisdom, experience, abilities, skills, talents and other attributes, to engage with confidence in decision-making in the first place…

We have such a big education problem. I’m sharing this for anyone who’s in a paid decision-making position. Please take a long hard look at yourself. You might be the problem.

You may be qualified (passed driving test and got taxi badge) but not be ready (to drive passengers on the roads); it will take more practice.

Terrance A. Jennings

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