So you want to be a great leader

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Discover who the masters are. Find out what they do. Then
do it and you will be a master, too.

That was the guiding principle when I developed my training and my Working Supervisor’s Support Kit. I identified bosses who were
rated “excellent” by their boss, by the people they supervised, and by their
peers. I identified what they did and developed materials to teach those
behaviors to others.

I believe that great leaders are great because of what they do, not because
of what they are. I’ve found very few discussions of the characteristics of
great leaders that turned out to be helpful. After all, when someone suggests
that you should “be fair” it’s good advice, but it stops short of telling you
how. I’ve got a bias toward the “do” and not the “be.”

This morning, I read two blog posts that put the do and the be together very
well. Terry Starbucker’s post, “How a Dictionary Tells Us Everything We Need To Know About
” and Jane Perdue’s “Confusing being and doing” both sort things out quite

Terry Starbucker suggests that looking at definitions of the concept of what
you want to be will lead you to behaviors that take you there. Jane Perdue
suggests (brilliantly, I think) that the solution to the conundrum is simply
including doing and being when you answer the question: “What do you want to be
when you grow up?”

Boss’s Bottom Line

Here’s a way to make better choices about how to act in a specific situation.
Ask yourself what I call The Jim Cathcart Question: “How would the person I want to be
handle this?”

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