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Senior Manager
Joined: 17 Aug 2005
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05 Dec 2006, 13:09
In doing a bit of a brain dump on my leadership skills at work and outside of work I am having a difficult time defining leadership. How do you define leaderhip?

Is it teamwork, managing, taking initiatives? Is it all of that or something else? Wikipedia gives the definition of leadership as:
"the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members".

Leadership as it is narrowly defined seems pretty clear to me, but what is it that business schools look at someone and say, "YES. They are a leader" Particularly when our leadership experiences are more subtle.

-Taking initiatives and going beyond what is expected
-Managing people and projects and how you handle them in good and bad circumstances
-Having the ability to get people to follow your initiative and contribute
-One who inspires people to bring out the best in themselves to serve the greater group/organization.

I might be thinking too much here, people, but I'd love to hear what you guys think
VP
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05 Dec 2006, 14:21
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
Manager
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05 Dec 2006, 14:21
Leadership and Management are generally two seperate things. Being an effective leader means you need to be effective at getting other's support and being able to influence other people's decision making even without formal authority. This does not mean you need to be the one who comes up with the ideas.

Management usually involves figuring out strategies and then putting those strategies into action. Being a good leader can help you be better at managing people.
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11 Dec 2006, 10:08
So suppoer I had a situation that one of our customers had problems with our products. I was incharge to deal with this customer (a major one) and in order to fix their problem, I had to round up engineers to help us out, make fixes, do some testing etc.

Our engineers were extremely busy with a new product deadline, and I had to put pressure on their managers and my manager to get some traction on this problem.

(btw, I'm planning to use this for Cornell Essay 1)
Manager
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11 Dec 2006, 15:36
What you describe is not leadership. It is the exertion of authority by involving the engineer's functional managers. Leadership stories are generally more related to exertion of influence without relying on authority.
Manager
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11 Dec 2006, 16:06
Hmm... ok. thanks for your input so far, let me enhance this scenario.

So i should concentrate on how I was able to motivate the engineers to help me without using authority? Would it be better if I was able to convince them that this is an important customer and that their product is very close to shipping date, etc?

I could also say that I was able to convince my customer to make their QA dept available to do rigorous testing once I got our engineers to find a solution. And I also able to convince our product team to quickly deploy this solution just in time for the customer's ship date, thus saving the world from utter destruction.

Basically this was a situation where a high priority customer flew someone up to our office to fix this problem that would look very bad for both of us if their product shipped as is. I had to coordinate people from multiple departments and get everyone to get this fixed in short order.

is this leadership? what aspects should I highlight in my essays?
Rhyme where are u when I need u?
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11 Dec 2006, 16:42
The story you describe could have some leadership hidden in it but it is not apparent to me.

You need to show that
a) You got the engineers on your side by figuring out what their motivations were.
b) You aligned yourself and the team with the goals of the organization (Customer satisfaction?)
c) You mitigated the situation by addressing the concerns of the customer by serving as a bridge between the customer and the engineers.
d) You pulled it all together and everyone went home happy.

The thing about this story is that it is a very common situation. So you need to go into detail and explain exactly how you felt and did, how others thought and did etc.

I don't see anything unique about the situation you describe. Therefore your execution needs to be excellent.
Senior Manager
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11 Dec 2006, 17:10
Quote:
So suppoer I had a situation that one of our customers had problems with our products. I was incharge to deal with this customer (a major one) and in order to fix their problem, I had to round up engineers to help us out, make fixes, do some testing etc.

Our engineers were extremely busy with a new product deadline, and I had to put pressure on their managers and my manager to get some traction on this problem.

(btw, I'm planning to use this for Cornell Essay 1)

Fluffydot, do you have my job?? This is a day in the life of me, and a similar experience I was thinking of in terms of leadership. I think that getting people to prioritize, motivate and buy into your project as an important cause when they otherwise would not seems like an example of leadership to me, but maybe I am wrong.

I think this involves getting people to do something without forcing them, getting them to serve the interests of the company in the form of realized revenues, managing the relationship with the client and mitigating any damage resulting from the initial problem. Is this not leadership? Does anyone have an example, real or fictional, of tangible leadership?
VP
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11 Dec 2006, 18:17
buckkitty wrote:
Quote:
So suppoer I had a situation that one of our customers had problems with our products. I was incharge to deal with this customer (a major one) and in order to fix their problem, I had to round up engineers to help us out, make fixes, do some testing etc.

Our engineers were extremely busy with a new product deadline, and I had to put pressure on their managers and my manager to get some traction on this problem.

(btw, I'm planning to use this for Cornell Essay 1)

Fluffydot, do you have my job?? This is a day in the life of me, and a similar experience I was thinking of in terms of leadership. I think that getting people to prioritize, motivate and buy into your project as an important cause when they otherwise would not seems like an example of leadership to me, but maybe I am wrong.

I think this involves getting people to do something without forcing them, getting them to serve the interests of the company in the form of realized revenues, managing the relationship with the client and mitigating any damage resulting from the initial problem. Is this not leadership? Does anyone have an example, real or fictional, of tangible leadership?

- Commanded Apollo 13 mission and the hicupps!
- Rescued an hi-jacked airplane (when the pilots were knocked off)
- Navigated a Cargo ship from the hands of pirates
- Mountaineering: Saved the lives of XXX people engulfed in a deadly storm on the North Face of Everest!
- Soled the North Face of Eiger/Mt Robson for a noble cause (such as AIDS awareness etc)
11 Dec 2006, 18:17
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