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What is the Most Important Thing You Have Learned about Leadership?

published March 24, 2014

By Follow Me on
Published By
( 74 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
We asked paralegals and other professionals in the United States what the most important thing they have learned about leadership is. Although their answers varied, they all explained what they have learned from leadership and what qualities define leadership. We hope you enjoy their answers.

Having been a university professor, civil rights activist, legal advocate, executive director, band leader and now candidate for Mayor of Toronto, I've learned that leadership is not about control. Rather, it's about empowering the whole and facilitating the needs of everybody. Placing an emphasis on process rather than outcome and allowing all parties to be heard along the way will provide meaningful and longer-lasting results.

-Robb Johannes
Candidate for Mayor of Toronto 2014

You manage resources and lead people. Get this wrong and you are just the ogre in the office. Leadership is about relationship, not power.

-Ken Rupert | The Vita-Copia Group
Board Certified, Master Christian Life Coach
Author, Speaker, Strategic Life Coach & Financial Mentor

In response to your inquiry, the most important thing I have learned about leadership is to lead by example. A leader takes on any assignment, whether complex or mundane, to help meet a common goal and deadlines.

In the Virgin Islands, I held an administrative role early in my career with a women empowerment group. I wore many hats including secretary, caterer and clean-up crew. I was always the first to arrive and the last to leave. I was adaptable to take on any responsibility because it was all for a common goal (of helping women).

Another important thing I have learned about leadership is to love what you do. To paraphrase a well-known adage, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

-Kim M. Aaron

Critical leadership qualities: emotional intelligence and competence. Leadership efficacy requires the potential leader to have evolved at least to a stage 2 level of competence (Competence Continuum: see below).

STAGE ONE: Unconscious Incompetence: When we don't know what we don't yet know. (Incompetence is defined as simply not knowing how do to something well)

STAGE TWO: Conscious Incompetence: We begin to understand what we don't know and what we need to learn.

STAGE THREE: Conscious competence: We begin to apply our skills and knowledge carefully and mindfully, taking the first steps so to speak.

STAGE FOUR: Unconscious competence: We apply the new skills and knowledge often without conscious thought, usually meeting established goals and objectives.

-Joseph J. Ravick, MBA, Ph.D., C.Med. (retired)
Mediation, Conflict and Dispute Resolution,
Relationship Coaching, Professional Development
Powell River, BC

As a legal career member of the senior staff or management in government, industry and universities, what does 'leadership' mean on a practical level?

Leadership is three things:
  1. Respect all aspects of the organizational mission and its history by motivating, incentivizing, and honoring the people that shape the organization.
  2. Show the way for the organization to achieve its goals and objectives with others through sound executive judgment.
  3. Chart a vision for a possible future of the organization that clearly establishes what's possible.
More specifically, a vigilant question rests upon the leadership gap.

What qualities constitute good or bad leaders?

Effective and efficient leaders have three sound management traits and qualities:
  1. They read, then read more, until they read almost everything.
  2. They listen, and then actively listen, until they hear almost nothing else that needs to be heard anymore.
  3. They use executive judgment, which constitutes three aspects: conveying empathy towards others, asking lots of questions, and providing service to the organization and its mission for humankind and society as a whole.
Bad leaders tend to work across their environment of leadership, the STEEP forces of "me," "my," and "I decided," more than "us," "our," and "We decided."

This fundamental quote on leadership and management by an "American Salesman in London," a century ago, just about sums it all up --- "A boss says 'Go!'; a leader says 'Let's Go!'" --- Harry Gordon Selfridge (1909)

Another question is: What best practices do we expect a good leader to follow?

Good lawyers, jurists, and legal scholars, governance directors and titans of industry, business, and commerce, and public servants of the mechanical arts and the nation's housekeeping and public works management, as valuable leaders, pay closest attention to three best practices.
  1. They establish a winner's strategy for the organization and its mission, shaping effective governance of monitoring and oversight.
  2. They integrate the organization's strategy, marketing, finance, and operations for efficiency of the senior leadership team, working alongside organizational staff and employees.
  3. They create a stable culture built around motivations and incentives for enhanced performance of the organizational workforce, which is accountable and responsible to the organization's mission - "The Why We Exist?"
Let me close by suggesting three more specific core competencies required of servant professionals in leadership roles.

Respectfully consider this simple formula of sound leadership success:

Three "Fs" = "Ss":
  1. Fundraising = Stewardship
  2. Finance = Strategy
  3. Facilities = Safety
What acknowledgements do I have regarding one's development of the traits, practices, and competencies on leadership, governance and management I've offered here?

As a civil, mechanical, and aerospace engineer, my leadership, governance and management traits, practices and career competencies have been significantly enhanced through legal training I've received from numerous legal scholars, jurists, and public servants at Harvard, University of Cambridge, University of London, and The White House. Alongside this, exceptional 'top-flight' business training I've received from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago Booth School has helped. Also, through the extraordinary organizational mission stewardship, governance and philanthropy engagement I've received from Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and UCLA's John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management, I have gained a deeper understanding of these traits, practices, and competencies.

-Oliver McGee

The five key traits to successful leaders:
  1. Self-knowledge / self-awareness
  2. Singular purpose & clarity of intention
  3. Pick their goals - and their battles - with care
  4. Time is valued and planned

    a) Protect their thinking time

    b) Limit communications
  5. Actively manage stress

    a) Sleep, diet and exercise

    b) Support network

-Jonathan Hill, ACC
Catalyst PLD Ltd.

Looking for legal career opportunities near you? Click here.

published March 24, 2014

By Follow Me on
( 74 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.