Leadership – 2nd In A Series

Ed BurghardThis is the second installment of the leadership series. This set of notes is from a talk that explored leadership from the perspective of looking beyond the standard skills. It reflects thoughts on skills that great leaders possess that are often not discussed. I had stars beside several of the points, so at the time I must have been very impressed. After reviewing them with the benefit of more experience, I think the points are just as valid today as I thought originally.

Here is a link to the 1st In The Series.

Like before, I am hoping you find something in my journal notes that makes you think a little different about your own leadership skills.  Even if it does no more than reinforce something you already believe is important, the notes will have served a valuable purpose.  As I said in my first post in this series, I have been fortunate enough in my career to have had the opportunity to learn from some of the most impressive and successful leaders in the business world.  I want to share my notes with you and hopefully inspire you to become the best leader you are capable of being.


Words of Wisdom

Vision starts with mastery. Simply put, you can’t have a compelling vision if you do not know the subject in-depth. You don’t need to know every detail, but you do need to have a working mastery of the most important elements. The better you understand the principles involved, the more compelling a vision you can create.

Effective vision has stature. If you are going to try and enroll people, give them a vision worth supporting. For example, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” is a vision with stature. Better enabling people to more fully achieve the American Dream, in my opinion, is another example of a vision with stature (and one I hope you will help me establish as a goal for the economic development profession).

Effective leadership requires you to understand your competitive advantage. It might be to know your job better than anybody else, or to have in-depth knowledge on a specific subject. Typically, the longer you have been a leader, the competitive advantage shifts from depth to breath of knowledge. You have seen similar problems before (experience) and understand the patterns of success and failure.

You can lead effectively from whatever position you are in. If you are leading up the organization, your can strengthen your vision by discussing it in a broader context. If you are leading across or down, leverage people’s depth of knowledge to support it.

Effective leaders never forget to answer the question “What’s in it for me”? People want to know why they should follow. Answering the question creates understanding and commitment. Whenever you focus on answering the question for people, you have their full attention.

Leaders don’t make an emotional judgment on facts. They accept it as reality and focus more on what should be done next. Assigning blame is a worthless exercise. Understanding and addressing the drivers of a current condition leads to improvement or resolution. Think in systems terms. Work on the system as well as in the system.

Leaders genuinely enjoy their role. It is transparently obvious to people if you are forcing yourself to be a leader. If you know your stuff, set a sound vision, use good basic leadership skills and enjoy coming to work, you will have followers.


The above is not intended to be a comprehensive description of a leader. The list simply represents notes I took from a lecture or training course. But, I hope the concepts have the power to make you reflect on the subject, and maybe do a little introspection regarding your leadership mastery.

From the list, was there any thought that struck you as an “Ah Ha”? Did you disagree with any? Which thoughts in the above list do you feel are the most important?

Please leave a comment with your point-of-view.

Read About My Journey To Learn More About The American Dream

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