Which leader would you choose?

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

A snapshot of three leaders across the eight-episode PBS reality series “Colonial House”—in which 21st century participants recreate American colonial life—offers three leadership lessons in miniature:

1. Everybody liked and accepted Jeff Wyers as governor of the settlement, but he wasn’t a particularly strong leader because no one felt any pressure to work hard. As long as no problems erupted, things went fine. But when food ran low, Wyers couldn’t rally the colonists in time.

Lesson: Something as simple as efficiency can turn into a life-or death issue for your organization.

2. Don Heinz wanted the governor’s job so badly that the colonists hesitated trusting him with it. They weren’t convinced he cared about the colony as much as himself. So, they dragged their feet.

Lesson: Nothing deflates morale faster than a selfish boss. You have to want the mission, not just the status that comes with it.

3. The colonists’ last overseer, Jack Lecza, didn’t have the title of governor but wielded power as the colony’s financial backer. He candidly assessed the work participants had done so far and pressed lots of ideas on the colonists to bring them up to speed.

Lecza made them look for new food sources such as fish and clams, refocused their attention on their work, and toiled alongside them. He wasn’t interested in being liked. 

Lesson: Lecza earned the team’s trust ... and their labor.

— Adapted from “17th Century Leadership Lessons for 21st Century Managers,” Nicole Gull, Fresh Inc.,The Inc.com Weblog.

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