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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Leadership Begins With Passion

Harvard alumni Jonathan Byrnes writes The Bottom Line, (gotta love that catchy title!...) a monthly column that details innovative methods for increasing profit from an existing business without costly new initiatives.

He also does a lot of research on leadership. Here's a definition of leadership that has stuck with him:

Leaders are "people who leave their footprints in their areas of passion."

In order to lead what Byrnes calls "paradigmatic change," leaders need eight essential characteristics:

  • Capacity for passion. First and foremost, you need a burning drive to make things better. Change management is a grueling process, and passion will see you through it.
  • Perspective. In order to convert passion into action, you must be able to "step back" and "view" what you're doing even while you're doing it.
  • Creativity. Once you have a perspective on your business process, it takes creativity to see fundamentally new and more effective ways to do things.
  • Organization skills. You have to translate a broad vision into a very well organized, practical, step-by-step program.
  • Teamwork. You have to have the organization's best interests at heart, and really be motivated to make things better for those you seek to lead.
  • Persistence. After passion gets you started, persistence is what carries you through
  • Open-mindedness. Large-scale change necessarily involves a good measure of learning by doing. A good leader needs a high level of tolerance for ambiguity.
  • Integrity. Integrity is more than honesty. It is a matter of being genuine, being motivated by your deeply held values to make your organization and your coworkers better off. This is where the passion, persistence, and teamwork come from.

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