A Personal Theory of Leadership – Goals of Effective Leadership

If you are just joining the discussion, you may want to check out:

  • Part 1 to establish some context for this article.
  • Part 2 to see how I define leadership.
  • Part 3 to discover the key components of leadership.
  • Part 4 to understand the leadership values I count as most important.

Though the goals of effective leadership may be many, I believe the most important goals of effective leadership are Developing People, Reaching Goals, Making Things Better, and Passing the Torch.

Developing People

Leadership is about people. You can’t lead without people. You can’t succeed as a leader without people. Therefore, you must develop people and help them grow. The growth of your organization depends on the growth of your organization. For example, Rick Warren states that he has never been concerned with growing his church. He believes that by continuing to learn and grow personally, he makes room and gives permission for others to learn and grow as well. The result of individual growth, according to Rick, is organizational growth. (Warren, n.d.) Therefore, it is imperative for the success of the leader and the organization that leaders develop people for the sake of developing people. It is the responsibility of the leaders to provide an environment in which subordinates can learn and grow. Furthermore, leaders need to empower their subordinates in order to create or perpetuate a culture of engagement and personal fulfillment.

Reaching Goals

An effective leader reaches goals – both organizational and personal. They also facilitate the accomplishment of developmental and career goals of their subordinates. Obviously, if an organizational leader doesn’t meet organizational goals, they probably won’t be an organizational leader for long. However, effective leaders realize that the little goals carry the big goals and that individual goals are the building blocks for organizational goals. To that end, effective leaders help others reach their goals. From an organizational standpoint, those goals may be that Employee A needs to meet Company Goal A so that Employee B can meet Company Goal B. However, an effective leader knows that Employee A is also concerned with Professional Goal A and Personal Goal A and will use their influence to help facilitate the reaching of these objectives as well. Finally, an effective leader does what it takes to reach their own personal, professional, and organizational goals.

Making Things Better

In his article, Leadership: A Simple Definition, Mark Summerfield defines leadership as “making things better” (Summerfield, 2014) and I believe that an effective leader makes things better in the long run. “In the long run” is key to true effectiveness. History is filled with examples of where new, effective leadership stepped into horrible situation and made it worse before they made it better. They realize that bad situations, like messy garages, usually require things to get messier before they get better.

But, better for whom?  The ultimate goal is to make things better for the organization. However, an effective leader knows that it is impossible to sustain “long-term better” for the organization without creating “long-term better” for individual employees and customers. Therefore, an effective leader, armed with a clear and compelling vision and the plan to make it happen, strives to make things better for customers, employees, and investors. Blanchard may say that effective leaders have the goal of making things better for the triple-bottom line – being the provider of choice, the employer of choice, and the investment of choice. (The Founding Associates and Consulting Partners of The Ken Blanchard Companies, p. 4)

Passing the Torch

Closely aligned with the goal of making things better is the goal of successfully passing the torch of leadership and success to the next generation of the organization. There is no success without a successor. Consequently, an effective leader realizes their own mortality in both the physical and organizational sense and prepares the organization to continue to succeed after they are no longer a part of it. To reach this goal, they identify, pour into, develop, and empower those around them so that one day, they can lead the meeting, then the department, the division, and the organization.

Summerfield, M. R. (2014). Leadership: A simple definition. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 251-253.

The Founding Associates and Consulting Partners of The Ken Blanchard Companies. (2010). Leading at a Higher Level: Revised and Expanded Edition - Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: BMC, Blanchard Management Corporation.

Warren, R. (n.d.). My Advice to Preachers. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from Christianity.com: http://www.christianity.com/11574245/