Leadership comes in different shapes and sizes and I’m most concerned with how people lead. The work of Ronald Heifetz recently caught my attention and in his book, Leadership without Easy Answers, he describes the traits of leaders:

1. Leaders get out on the balcony. They step back, observe the fray, and interpret the organizational dynamics in real time.

2. Leaders know how to listen musically as well as analytically.

3. Leaders assemble confidants and allies for emotional support, as sources of information, and to draw fire on their behalf.

4. Leaders inspire others by identifying where people find meaning and by finding connections between specific tasks and organizational purpose.

5. Leaders demonstrate courage and stamina—an ability both to generate heat and take the heat.

6. Leaders demonstrate compassion and empathy. They respect the pains of change and the coping mechanisms that people use.

7. Leaders treat ripe and unripe issues differently—and, all else being equal, they tackle ripe issues first.

8. Leaders manage the timing of distress. they disturb people only when they have the time and the credibility to spend on dealing with the consequences.

9. Leaders seek opportunities for catharsis and spiritual renewal.

— Ronald Heifetz, Leadership without Easy Answers

The selection above illustrates that leadership is about action, interaction, and creating balance.

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