Perhaps the part of leadership that makes it so tricky to master is that there is no one way to be a great leader. What works well for one leader is a miserable experience for others. Leadership is a patchwork of traits that you have to learn to adapt and blend in with your own unique personality. Our Great Leadership Series focuses on three leaders and the qualities that they have displayed that drives the results. We challenge you this month to pay attention to your own leadership traits and be prepared to ask yourself some tough questions on how your leadership skills need to change/develop based on the results you want to create.
When the idea of sharing someone I consider to be a great leader first surfaced it seems like an extremely easy task to come up with someone to highlight. Then my mind began to race through the many people, some still alive, some not, some I have known, some not, individuals like Lincoln and Churchill, Gandhi to Mother Teresa, Coach Frerichs to Dr. Shutters, and suddenly it struck me that the task to narrow down to just one leader was going to be very, very difficult. As I thought about the many amazing leaders the world has seen and that have impacted my life in one way or another it suddenly hit me that the leader that has had the biggest impact on my life is larger than life and one whose name I share, Kennedy, John Kennedy. No, not the one that probably came to your mind, the 35th president of the United States, rather John C. Kennedy, my dad.
Choosing my dad as the leader to share about was not an easy choice. Not that he was not very influential in my life, but it seemed like an obvious choice and maybe a bit easy...plus, when one begins to write the names of leaders of the last couple of centuries, I doubt the name John C Kennedy will be on any serious historians list of who's who of leaders. But, the challenge was to write about the leader that impacted me and why...John C Kennedy, my dad, was the best choice.
Two things stick in my heart and mind when I think of the influence my dad has had on my life - he was a man of integrity and guidance.
- Integrity in that my dad followed through with what he promised; he did what he said he would do. With that I learned a couple of valuable lessons; keep your promises few and do not make frivolous vows. My dad was famous for not promising to do things. He understood that most things were out of his control so he rarely promised. He would say that he would try or that his intention was to do something but rarely did he say he would absolutely do something as he wanted to make sure that his word meant something. What did this mean to me as his son? I knew that my dad, when he said he would do something, he would do it, period.
- Guidance is the other characteristic that has influenced me from my dad. He was not an iron-fisted leader but rather, an influencer. He questioned things. Rarely do I recall him "laying out the law" or stating something as absolute. Other than unfaltering commitment to his bride and his children, everything else was open to question. That is how he guided others around him, by asking questions and allowing them to find the answer. Being the answer man was not important to him rather allowing others to have the joy of discovering the answer was his style.
When I consider leading others, my dad, John C Kennedy, set a great example as he meant what he said and he guided others to discover their best.
- Clayton Kennedy