“You look like you have a question,” I said.
“I have been studying leadership, but it is a bit confusing,” Maria replied. “So, many books, so many perspectives. You would think if I read all the books, I would know what traits I should possess to be an effective leader?”
I nodded. “So, it would seem. Any study of leadership rarely considers the context of leadership, so the discussion appears jumbled and confused. Leadership never stands alone, it is always in a context.”
“Was Churchill considered a great leader?” I asked.
“Yes, for those of us who have seen the movie,” Maria chuckled.
“Yes, in wartime, but not so much in peacetime. To truly understand leadership, first you have to understand the context. Connect the context and things make more sense. Most often, I speak about managerial leadership. But, there are other contexts, parental leadership, political leadership, military leadership, spiritual leadership, academic leadership. The context will demand the qualities necessary for effective leadership in that circumstance, and eschew those characteristics that detract.”
Maria nodded, so I continued. “Before we look at the person (qualities and traits), first we have to look at the context. The biggest mistake most companies make in hiring is to look at the candidate without understanding the work in the role. It’s all about the work.”
“Hmmm… Context. Seems relevant to a position… as well as a person?” asked Calliope.
“Uh-huh,” Urania agreed. “Some people have an ability to show up and meld with what the context requires. Takes a bit of self-awareness… and empathy.”
Thalia tapped her pencil on the table. “Be like water.”