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The push & pull of leading today

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Why should somebody do your bidding?

The old answer:  The leader is a superior person. The new answer:  Leaders consult with followers and execute the collective will, often by consensus.

In some ways, modern leaders are stuck between those two models. If you dictate, you lose loyalty. And if you merely truckle to your followers—trying like Dale Carnegie to win them over and gain “buy-in”—you’re just expediting what people want.You’re not leading people; you’re servicing them.

The secret to solving this dilemma:  a shared goal. People don’t have to admire, like or even want to imitate a leader to follow him or her, as long as they both want the same thing.

Leadership is a three-legged stool: You need a leader, a follower and a common goal. A good leader has to know what followers want and possess at least a reasonable strategy to take them there.

— Adapted from “What Makes a Good Leader?” Garry Wills, The Atlantic Monthly.

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