Carlos Leyva

Silicon Stories

Chapter 7: Talent Wars, E-Teams and E-Cultures

Natural Leaders

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Natural Leaders own the mission. By definition there is only one Natural Leader for any given mission. They can coexist with a leader that derives authority from position power, but are obviously more effective when position power and natural leadership are aligned. Natural Leaders create team magic. Magic is not a by-product of serendipity. It is clear that renowned movie directors do not rely on serendipity to create the cast chemistry required for a great movie. The creation of cast chemistry is premeditated.

Good fellows are a dime a dozen, but an aggressive leader is priceless.

—Red Blaik

How do Natural Leaders do what they do? Does it require charm, superior social skills, above average intelligence, empathy and love of humanity? Well the truth is that no one knows for sure. Probably a Natural Leader possesses all the aforementioned qualities and still others that remain un-named. The nature versus nurture argument is relevant, and like so many other cases where this argument is raised, the only plausible answer is that natural leadership requires some combination of both. That said, it is clear that leadership skills can be improved with practice and grow with experience.

It must be noted that leadership skills are not immutable. Change the mission context in a dramatic fashion and/or within a different domain and you are unlikely to see the same Natural Leaders emerge. Leadership is often fleeting. It is extremely context sensitive and occurs within certain space and time boundaries. However, that said, within a given context and domain, leadership can certainly be maintained across a relatively large number of missions.

As previously mentioned, there are no scientific principles of leadership, and perhaps there never will be; yet there are some rules of thumb that have worked for me and I will share them with you. These always seem to apply, despite the composition of the current team and the context of the current mission.

Leading the Congregation

Every team member is an essential part of the team and brings unique qualities and experiences to bear in their assigned role. This is an axiom of team dynamics, however it is pure abstraction and is only relevant if each team member is made to feel unique. One of the Natural Leader’s most important goals is to develop this sense of uniqueness through quiet praise and various other subtle techniques.

One not so subtle technique is to create forums wherein individual team members get to shine in front of their peers. I have used this technique with great success and go out of my way to look for opportunities that fit a particular individual. This is often most beneficial for journeyman and junior team members, who otherwise might not get an opportunity to lead the congregation. Can I get a witness?

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