Emergent leaders vs. assigned leadership

As pointed out in a variety of literature on the subject, it is those emergent leaders who, having the needed attributes to wind up evolving into leadership roles from among their peers, typically garner the most respect and the most dedicated following. These leaders worked in the ditches, know the ropes and typically have genuine empathy for the folks with whom they worked side by side. These are also typically great folks to have in a team, even if they're not acting in formal roles as leaders. Team members with these qualities are wonderful, as they don't need constant monitoring and micro management - they analyze situations, anticipate outcomes, keep a long view forward as well as keeping track of immediate tactical decisions, and take ownership of solutions, rather than just observing problems and passing them up-line. Imagine having an entire team with these characteristics!

It is another group - those with formal authority via "assigned leadership", but lacking the needed attributes to be effective leaders - that are all too often in a position to wreak havoc in an organization. While they may not be effective leaders, they may be skilled politicians, and know how to protect themselves - taking credit for the work of others, and shifting blame below them to team members who may wonder why their professional development seems to have stalled. This is one of the categories of management personalities that is potentially the most destructive.

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