Elements of Leadership
presented by Richard Amyx
Birmingham LOTS, February 24, 2001
Panhandle Mensa (Amarillo) Leadership Roundtable Seminar, March
||Why am I doing this?
Evidence of poor leadership at all levels, not just in Mensa, but in employment,
local government, and on up to the presidency, where the candidates in
the last election were so indistinguishable that voters couldn't make up
In all the Mensa material pertaining to Leadership Development Workshops,
the word leadership is mentioned only once--in the suggested activity
of a leadership retreat, but no program for a leadership retreat is given.
All the LDW activities pertain to getting or filling out forms, instructions
how to contact the office, etc.; to quote Meredy, "They're teaching you
how to be followers, not leaders.
|Goal for this session: consciousness raising.
For people who are now holding leadership positions or those who plan on
holding leadership positions.
To help all discern among candidates for leadership positions at all levels
Not a lecture.
Work together to develop a list of characteristics of leaders and leadership.
Discuss the principal items on the list.
Leadership has been a concern of man from earliest recorded history; discussion
of it can be found in the Upanishads, the Bible, and the Torah.
Man is a social animal. In order for human society to succeed at
all levels, we must have good leadership in our activities.
Currently there are more theories of leadership than you can count; it's
become a separate academic discipline. There's way too much theory
even to broach theory in a short presentation (we'll stay practical).
Principles of leadership seem to range in number from 4 to 21 (according
to what I saw).
||Interactive session--develop list of characteristics of leaders
Like brainstorming. No judgments; anything mentioned goes on the
||Discussion of three primary characteristics of leaders.
Vision is the first critical dimension of effective leadership.
Without vision, there is little or no sense of purpose in an organization.
Efforts drift aimlessly as people struggle for meaning. The loss
of purpose leads to a lack of coordination among the work units of an organization
and divisive infighting among executives.
Mensa has a vision in its purposes, stated in Section I.A. of
The Constitution of Mensa: Mensa's purposes are to identify and foster
human intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research in
the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence; and to provide a
stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.
A good leader must be able to make decisions and stick to them.
Once you have your priorities straight, making decisions is simple.
Keeping the vision in mind helps set the priorities; good decision-making
Listening is one of the hardest activities to accomplish well. It does
not matter if it is a student listening to a lecture, a child listening
to his parents, or an employee listening to his boss, most people listen
combatively. They are listening solely with the intent to make a rebuttal
and make the other party "understand their point of view."
They are not listening with the intent of understanding; they're just
waiting for their turn to speak. (In Mensa, a dialog is defined as
the intersection of two monologues.)
"So, we, largely drawn from social science, educational, and youth serving
community, are people generally employed in nonprofit organizations, who
like to define leadership as the ability of an individual to influence
the values, attitudes, beliefs, and actions of others by working with and
through them in order to achieve the organization's mission and purpose."
With respect to volunteers: we cannot place performance requirements
on volunteers. The best we can do is influence them to elicit their
Leadership ¹ power; leadership = influence.
Three critical errors of leadership.
Caution about charismatic leadership.
Leadership is as much art as science. Leadership skills can be improved,
but there has to be some talent there to start with.
A leader must be comfortable with his or her own style.
Leaders have to be broad rather than narrow people; they should be well-read
and well-traveled. A leader has to be a big-picture person rather
than a detail person.
Some of the most important attributes of leader effectiveness are: a) personal
knowledge, b) knowledge based on content, c) problem-solving ability, d)
ability to critically analyze and develop visions for the future, e) effective
communication skills, f) ability to translate visions into goals, g) risk-taking
ability, h) good sense of judgment, I) flexibility, and j) willingness
to work within an organization as a team member. The difficulty in
defining leadership and extricating the most important attributes lies
in the uniqueness of each individual leader.
The boss vs. the leader.
And in closing.
Relies upon authority
Makes work a drudgery
Relies upon cooperation
Says "Let's go!"
Makes work interesting
Leadership principles from Peter Drucker. Especially:
The business of management (AMC) is to make Mensa more Mensa-like, not
to make Mensa more business-like.
Management is a social function and has mostly to do with people, not
with things and procedures.
An organization begins to die the day it begins to be run for the benefit
of the insiders (the AMC) and not for the benefit of the outsiders (the
Know the value of planned abandonment.
Decide what not to do. Drucker says, "Nothing is less productive
than to make more efficient what should not be done at all." (burgeoning
MSB's; quasilegal ASIE's)
All the links.
Read leadership principles from the Vidbook site. This comes the
closest I've seen to a statement of leadership principles that matches
my own. In short: to lead is to serve.
Mensa is a roundtable society. We take turns in leadership positions
as stewards of the public trust.
In Mensa, a person becomes a VIP. . .only if his fellow members regard
him as such. Conditioned by other hierarchies, we create our own
stars, our own heroes. If they have a certain status and are treated
with a certain deference, it is because we freely accord them that status
by our behavior. It does not come automatically with the job.
Rare indeed is the member with a job title at any level of the organization
who imagines his position to be one of power. Rather, the title.
. .simply indicates the amount and kind of work its holder has agreed to
do for the organization--nothing more. . . .
--Meredy Amyx ("Hierarchy and Power", Bulletin #228,
Wear the mantle of authority lightly about your shoulders.
Following is a list of all the web sites I visited pertaining to leadership
that had something of interest on them. Obviously, some are the ones
previously cited; others served as background without any quotes being
lifted directly. Many of them have bibliography lists, if you want
to pursue the subject further.