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Lead or get out of the way - Using power responsibly.

Search America By Harvey M. Weiner, Managing Partner 
Search America®


Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death
- Diarist Anais Nin


Effective leaders are taught, not born. Understand the difference between a leader and a manager? No? Then you’re probably not a leader, yet. But, if you’re empathetic, ethical, sincere, driven by perpetual learning, engage in opportunities for professional improvement, then you may have the essential ingredients. The best leaders throughout history have been willing to rise above the false sense of personal security found in complacency and acceptance of mediocrity. Managers exercise power while leaders exemplify the height of character, values and skill. Being the boss does not make one a leader.


Dr. Kenneth Blanchard, author of Heart of a Leader, states, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” Leadership is the means by which we influence others to accomplish objectives and direct their efforts in such a way as to make the club experience more coherent and unified. While your position as a manager may give you the authority to move the club in a particular direction, that clout alone does not make you a leader. Leaders are judged by what they do, not by their title or what they say. The power-tripping or self-serving boss may get people to obey but not to respectfully follow. People have to follow a manager; they want to follow a leader.


Short term results may make the boss look good to the board but, inevitably, difficult, autocratic managers fail. People follow those in whom they observe trustworthiness, ethical behavior, fair and respectful treatment of all. Respect must be continually earned, not demanded. Do you help others or merely criticize? Do you clearly define expectations, establish and train to high standards then follow up, ensuring everyone’s contribution? Do your people understand their place in the organization and do they share ownership of the vision?


Leadership Guru, Dr. Warren Bennis believes, “The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why” The effective leader takes responsibility for his/her actions and those of the team. They don’t cast blame when things go wrong, as they will. A leader analyzes what went wrong, learns from the experience, accepts responsibility, takes corrective action and moves on.

It isn’t what you know but how you apply knowledge. Leadership is about your determination to continually learn, to utilize and share your accumulated understanding. Knowledge alone can turn to arrogance, but combined with experience and empathy, can lead to wisdom. Eric Hoffer, the self-educated longshoreman and author of True Believer , has said, “In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Expect change. Drive change. Honor change. Don’t just pay lip service to your employees as your team if in reality they are just a group of people each trying to do their job. If they have made a contribution to the vision, objectives and goals, understand their role in the big picture and if they emulate your acceptance of responsibility, respect and freely follow you, then they can become a team and you their leader


We know when we are in the presence of a genuine leader when we observe that s/he has developed other leaders, not simply more followers. Picture the mentors who have helped nurture the person you are. Remember how they even helped you to move on when they judged you were ready. Think now about some of the managers under whom you have worked. Decide, right now, which you would rather be?


Exceptional leaders seem to get it , perhaps through education and experience, that situational leadership brings out the best in people. Understanding human nature and applying an empathetic approach can access that which truly motivates each individual. To lead effectively you must know what you know and what they know; what you can do and what they can do; what you need and what they need.  


A manager may driven by power and authority, contentedly accepting what is . A leader challenges traditional thinking, even his own, and encourages others to do the same. Charles Darwin said, It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”


Embracing innovation is both challenging and potentially rewarding. Try researching new technologies; experiment with novel recipes; get out among the members and listen; empower employees to make more of their own decisions; actively hear others. A leader is willing to be influenced by what s/he hears. Managers fear the unknown, leaders welcome it. Letting go of the familiar takes courage though the known may feel secure. To someone content with mediocrity change is unsettling. Covet familiarity and need the board’s roadmap to navigate your way to approval? You’re a manager. If, however, you find meaning and energy in pursuing bold, exciting ideas; appreciate the value of board support; deserve the respect and trust of club members and staff; and if the board of directors gladly allocates the resources essential to achieving a collective vision, then congratulations! Your ability to influence participative, transformative change is the real power. You are a leader.


Mark Weiner contributed to this article. Harvey and Mark Weiner, two generations of thought leadership in the private club industry, and the only multigenerational team in private club management search, are partners in Search America®, International Board Consultants for Private Club Management, Founded in 1974.  800.977.1784   [email protected]   © Search America

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