Here’s a Wharton-reported take on leadership from an astronaut and adventurer, with examples for business application. It’s about preparation, single-minded focus on the goal and a team of “active followers”. It talks about the leader’s decision, turns at leading, sticking to the game plan even when you disagree, trust, proper communication and real team input that is enabled by the leader giving people power to be active followers.

While the activation is right, the follower language is wrong. Language is pivotal to winning, language sets the mental and the physical frame for victory, and ‘follower’ goes to the big flaw in classic leadership. Leaders need followers.

The difference is central not semantic. A team of ‘followers’ is immediately on the back foot. A team of leaders steps up and finds a way to win. This goes to the core of the Inspirational Leadership model of Peak Performance that I’ve developed with colleagues and teach in companies, MBA classes and across the board.

Real leadership is inspiring people to become the best they can be in pursuit of a shared Purpose, an Inspirational Dream.” For a military pointer, look to General Eisenhower who once defined leadership as the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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