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Mickey Edwards
Political leader

Mickey Edwards

Former U.S. Congressman, Mickey Edwards is vice president of the Aspen Institute, where he directs the Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Commanding is not leading

Q: George Steinbrenner violated just about every rule of the leadership handbook, yet he brought tremendous success to the NY Yankees, both on and off the field. What does this say about the conventional wisdom on leadership?

There is a difference between "leading," on the one hand, which involves vision, persuasion, motivation, and other attributes useful in bringing along people who have other options, and, on the other hand, exercising the powers of an all-empowered "boss" who may simply issue commands and, if the commands are not obeyed adequately or quickly enough, fire those whose perceived inadequacy of response is displeasing to him.

George Steinbrenner had a powerful commitment to results and to primacy, and that is an important element in the exercise of leadership, but to command is not the same as to lead.

By Mickey Edwards

 |  July 15, 2010; 1:59 PM ET
Category:  Sports Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Leading 'by any means necessary' | Next: Deep pockets to fire as he pleased

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Excellent comment! I agree totally. In fact I would go further and say that the term "autocratic leadership" is an oxymoron because leadership is an influence process. So, anyone who dictates is not leading. People with positional power aren't necessarily leaders just because they have the authority to call the shots. Thinking otherwise testifies to how confused we are about the meaning of leadership.

Posted by: mitchlead2xl | July 19, 2010 9:23 AM
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