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String Leadership: A Guide to Inspirational Leadership
String Leadership: A Guide to Inspirational Leadership by H. James Williams
Leadership is the art or science of honoring and valuing the diversity of people’s unique gifts, talents, skills and abilities to achieve a common goal or purpose. Leadership is immersed in the science of management. An essential difference between leading and managing is that effective leaders inspire commitment to action whereas managers, even though possessing leadership skills, are charged with planning, organizing and controlling actions of followers for productivity. Leaders exercise intuitive power and influence to inspire action. Managers have the authority to exert various levels of positional power to control actions and behavior through use of rewards and consequences for actions.
The String of Leadership
What does string have to do with leadership? String only serves as a metaphor in this article to characterize leadership qualities. Some years ago I read an aphorism about a leader pulling string versus a leader attempting to push string. Mentioned below are concomitant metaphors of leadership qualities to which I ascribe the term String Leadership.
Leading the Way
Effective leaders use influence and creativity to inspire commitment to achieve common purpose, goals and visions rather than resorting to authoritative pushing and bullying.
Communication and Authentication
Effective leaders excel at communicating and are able to reasonably perceive differences in values, beliefs and feelings of followers. Effective leaders have the ability to articulate rational arguments that arouse the passion of followers to adapt to achieving common purposes. Effective leaders are authentic and transparent in actions and avoid deceptively stringing followers along.
Effective leaders weave binding relationships for productive teamwork akin to twisting and braiding strands of string into rope. Effective leaders are astute at assessing differences in skills, talents, strengths and weaknesses. Effective leaders form teams consisting of team members possessing compatible strengths and weaknesses to achieve action steps toward goals. Effective leaders pair the stronger strands of rope, a metaphor for the stronger team members, with the weaker team member strands to complement the team’s overall effectiveness.
Resources and Logistical Support
Strong, durable ropes are used for hoisting and delivering cargo. Effective leaders are resourceful at acquiring resources through competent resource teams to support the needs of production teams for goal accomplishment.
Community and Industry Investment
Ropes weaved with integrity are used to fashion bridges of varying heights over a variety of terrains. Effective forward-thinking leaders weave relationships of integrity with internal and external stakeholders to promote stakeholder buy-in on enterprises of common interest.
Visionary leaders possess an uncanny clarity of vision for forecasting future goals that can be difficult for others to immediately envision. Visionary leaders articulate their vision for followers to see and contribute to achieving. Visionary leaders influence the hearts and minds of followers with faith to commit to the vision’s accomplishment. Visionary leaders are successful at roping, or lassoing in, the realization of their visions by leading and pulling the values and beliefs of followers in unison to the promised outcome.
Delegation and Succession
Nurturing leaders continually assess the strengths and weakness of protégé leaders and do not leave aspiring leaders dangling at uncertain heights of leadership. Nurturing leaders are also wise followers and are able to better decide when to succeed their leadership into the hands of capable stewards of the art and science of leadership. In doing so, authentic leaders rappel gracefully from leadership but remain accessible for wise counsel.
String has many uses for service. Seasoned leaders understand that a leader’s real value lies in serving followers to reach common goals. Many of the world’s greatest leaders had little in the way of material possessions and possessed no legal authority. Such leaders commanded the respect of the hearts and minds of the people who believed in them. Today those leaders are rich in legacy. Many leaders of the past still have followers of their teachings to include present-day leaders and managers who profit by those teachings.
Every able-bodied person is capable of leadership and is thrust into a leadership mode at some point. A child in the absence of an adult, an employee in the absence of a supervisor, a student in the absence of a teacher, a citizen to some unforeseen emergency are just a few scenarios potentially requiring spontaneous leadership.
Out of any group or scenario of people, a leader will emerge. A person in one situation, although knowledgeable, may be too shy and reticent to lead; whereas in another situation, this same person will naturally and intuitively assume a leadership role. There is a natural mindset to lead, follow or get out of the path of leadership.
Community, government and business leaders at all levels are faced with choices of leading by example. Everyone has innate situation leadership ability to lead when leadership is thrust upon them. How you choose to lead will leave its mark on the morale, performance and productivity of any group. Appreciating the nuances of String Leadership may just assist you in pulling support toward accomplishment of leadership goals to which you find yourself tied.