Progressive Leadership Begins with a Progressive Leader

We’ve all seen it… a “terrible-two” meltdown in the grocery store.  A child expressing their lack of awareness by uttering prolonged high-pitched screams with endless tears for whatever the case may be as the mother tries desperately to console her child.  As that child grows older they will rely on a mentor/leader who influences proper behaviors and guidance necessary for everyday life.

Leaders of an organization are no different in influencing constructive behaviors and performances in the work-place.  Take a look at the individuals you have leading your organization and examine in what ways their leadership is impacting.  What is the morale of their department?  Is there consistency?  Maybe there is chaos, (let’s hope not).  Whatever the case may be, chances are the department is a mirror image of their department leader.  Whether you want to enhance your leaders to be more progressive or simply generate a change in a stand-still leadership style, there are ways you can help.

John Childress, of Leadership Can’t Be Taught, but It Can Be Learned, states, “Teaching leadership to a class of students, or even giving a seminar on leadership to executives is about as effective in developing leaders as reading a cookbook is in developing chefs.”

Keep in mind that aside from knowledge alone, the desire to be a leader is essential for successful leadership; without it you’re likely to stay stuck in the status-quo.  Thus, when it comes to generating progressive leadership, the following practices should be in your wheelhouse.

Set the Example: The expression, “Do as I say, not as I do” isn’t a realistic expectation for adults any more than it is with children.  Setting a top-notch example of superb leadership allows you to set the stage for the type of leadership you want emanated within your organization.  It also creates expectations you want others to follow, just like a parent does for a child.  Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Leadership in the workplace can be equated by becoming the leader you wish to follow.

Challenge your Leaders: Give them mountains to climb that require more than what they can achieve alone.  This encourages seeking ideas outside of their own by engaging others.  It allows them to establish direction on their own and strive for success.  If the overall goal is the extent of their individual ability, they essentially are being treated as a follower and you jeopardize them shrinking to that label. Kaiser, Hogan, and Craig add, “Leadership involves influencing individuals to willingly contribute to the good of the group” and “coordinating and guiding the group to achieve its goals.”

Share your vision: What do you aspire for your organizations future? Whatever it is, you can’t expect others to share your aspirations if they can’t see them. Leaders should openly define their vision for success and communicate it on every occasion. Others need to own the vision as well if an organization ever expects to progress. Collaboration reassures everyone is on the same page and is working towards the same goal.

Celebrate Success:  Celebration honors success and shows gratitude to the people who achieve it. Acknowledging ones accomplishments and success is powerful and necessary, because people are motivated by their successes. As you celebrate ones achievement you are opening the door for others to join in and celebrate too, motivating them to be a part of the success. Recognizing victory reinforces the actions and behaviors you most want to see repeated. A little goes a long way in making one feel like they’re an invaluable part of your organization; therefore, in the words of Kool & the Gang, “Celebrate Good Times… Come on!!!”

You may be a dedicated leader and work hard at taking your leadership to the next level, but keep this in mind as you continue on your journey; leadership is not a one-man show, it’s a relationship among those that lead and those that want to follow your lead. Following these few simple practices will be every bit worth your effort in generating progressive leaders within your organization.

(Article submitted by Bret Bauer, city manager, and Janet Dillard, city secretary, Gun Barrel City. If you have interesting news or helpful topics to share, please submit them to Kim Pendergraft at Please keep the information to fewer than 750 words.)