From the Princess Bride

Leadership is a critical requirement to attain any significant goal.  The transmission mechanism from leadership to action (and back again) can be distilled into a finite set of actions.  These actions represent a cycle.  Good leaders hit every step in this cycle.  Good leaders:

  1. Generate Action – Leaders inject energy into a system that causes a reaction in a group or organization. Tools used to generate action include: vision and mission statements, passion, and communication.  A group in motion is easier to guide.  
  2. Provide Guidance – Leaders provide guidance by shaping and sharing a combination of vision and goals.  Guidance often requires reconciling the goals or a myriad of individuals and groups to create a coordinated approach to the future. The tools of guidance include: goals, objectives, supervision, communication and action.  How a leader behaves is a powerful tool to provide guidance.  These tools provide a roadmap to the future that guides an organization in motion.  The speed any organization follows a path is impacted by motivation.
  3. Instill Motivation – Leaders motivate those around them.  One interpretation of leadership is getting something done through others; getting something done through others requires motivation. The greater the leader the wider the net of motivation they cast.  Motivation tools include: communication, promotions, pay and charisma.  Motivation provides the impetus the organization to commit resources to change (or any activity)
  4. Allocate Resources – Money, tools and time are necessary for any significant organizational change.  Leaders control access to the resources needed to make changes either directly or indirectly.  Leaders know the resources they can manipulate.  Leaders rarely have to ask, quoting Westley in the Princess Bride, “Well, why didn’t you list that among our assets in the first place?” The allocation of resources is directly related to generating the knowledge needed to create confidence.
  5. Create Confidence – Gathering knowledge through experience provides the basis to believe that change can happen and that change will benefit the organization or at the very least how to tweak the approach. The knowledge needed to generate confidence comes both from successes and failures. Leaders must allow both to occur and ensure that both are tools for learning. The confidence that the future is both better and attainable builds morale.
  6. Build Morale – Morale is the combination of confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline felt or displayed by a person or group. Building morale requires connecting the team or organization to the vision, listening to the trials, tribulations and successes of those delivering value, communicating about the hopes and concerns of those in the organization and acting in line with espoused values and behaviors. Morale can be considered both the culmination and measurement of progress toward a vision.  Morale (the good kind) translates to support and cooperation for the leader’s vision and goals.  Morale positions the organization or team for action beginning the cycle anew with action.

A leader has a group or organization that follow the leader to meet each challenge and achieve each goal.  Good leaders progress through a cycle that begin by developing and espousing a vision that culminates with a group of followers with high morale which is translated into action.