BJ Gonzalvo is an organizational psychologist living in Seattle, WA and author of the book Leadership Lessons From the Saints.
by BJ Gonzalvo, PhD
In the business world, where I have been for the last 10 years, I have observed that the topic of leadership is something that has always piqued the interest of many business professionals. In business, in politics, in religion, and in virtually any other endeavor, there seems to be an insatiable demand for people to try to tackle the topic of leadership and to figure out what leadership really is. Sadly, some of the insistence to understand leadership is partly due to the failings and shortcomings of many of the leaders that we have put up in those positions. We want to understand leadership because we don't want to put the wrong people in leadership positions. We expect a lot from our leaders. We want our leaders to be perfect and blameless. We want our leaders to have all the answers. We put individuals up to leadership positions but time and time again, we tend to get disappointed by them, by their actions, and by their persona. And yet, here we are as a society continuously looking to fill the leadership voids. We keep marching on, continuing our search for the right person to come along, someone we can trust to follow.
Throughout history, there have been many kinds of leadership. In general, leadership research tends to make the clear distinction between business leadership and the kind of leadership that exists in the religious circles--a kind of heroic, self-sacrificing leader. There seems to be that persistent imaginary line between religion and business, politics, and virtually every other aspect of our society. However, if we boil leadership down to its very essence, what we will find is that leadership, in any of the domains, whether it be in the religious domain or business domain, at its very core, has the same fundamental characteristics and the same elemental composition—the same elements that are just universally applicable no matter what the situation is. At the very core of effective leadership, are these key characteristics where we would find authenticity, vision, purpose, humility, service, strength, perseverance, and selflessness. In much of the leadership studies conducted in the last century, these key leadership characteristics consistently keep showing up. There is something fundamental about these leadership traits that we keep seeking them in our leaders. We expect and we want the people who we entrust to be our leaders to have these fundamental characteristics. We constantly search for leaders with these characteristics but many of us know that with the many failings at the leadership position, these are characteristics that are just hard to find these days.
Leadership undoubtedly remains a critical topic particularly. It is a heavily researched topic and a lot of ink has been spilled on the subject. Just do a quick Amazon.com search for books about “leadership” and your search will likely generate a list of over 200,000. Leadership has always been an important topic in the many years past and it will always be an important topic in the many years to come, including this year, 2017.
What leadership books would you recommend for someone looking to develop such leadership traits this 2017? Tweet your responses to me @saintlynest or https://twitter.com/saintlynest or post on our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/saintlynest. I will compile your responses in a future blog.