I’ve noticed that people have the illusion that leaders are these “idea people” with throngs of followers who just do what they are told. Maybe some leaders work that way, but that isn’t true leadership. I’ve found that effective leaders identify people who are passionate about a shared goal. Organizations are effective when the people in them have personal goals that overlap with the group mission.
Sometimes people approach me with ideas that they think I can make happen as a leader. I’m excited when it is something that they are personally passionate about and want to help make happen. I’m dismayed when they think they can outline an idea and I’m going to independently make it happen — as if I don’t have three thousand ideas that are queued up just waiting for a few hours of spare time or the right collaborator to make happen.
I think the way media portrays leaders is unfortunate. I understand why it is convenient to focus on speeches and interviews with people at the tops of organizations. In many ways, it is the leader’s responsibility to communicate the impact of the work that all of their folks are doing, so folks can focus on making awesomeness happen. I love it when reporters dive into the details and find the people who make the the things, write the code, organize the events, and write the words. We need leaders to rally around and gather teams who will work better together and create a bigger impact than each individual would alone.