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English Detective # 37, Looking at Leadership: Apr 22 2014
April 22, 2014

English Detective # 37, Looking at Leadership: Apr 22 2014

What makes a great leader? There are a lot of very different definitions. In this newsletter we look at two. In a 9- minute TED talk, Rosalinde Torres talks about the importance of foresight, exposure to different ideas, and the courage to try new things. The University of Oregon suggests a short list of Leadership Characteristics. (Note while editing this in 2019-- it seems that the U. of Oregon page is now a promotion of their Leadership program rather than a discussion of leadership.) Although their perspectives are quite different, both mention many of the same characteristics in different words.

Rosalinde Torres summed up her research into leadership with 3 questions. She asks where leaders look when they consider the future, who they listen to (how diverse their network are), and how much courage they have to change direction after past successes, when their closest associates may disagree and call them foolish.

Her point #1-- how good a leader is at anticipating the unexpected, is often called “being proactive” rather than just reacting to events. #2 is related to (but more than) the Characteristics of Leadership’s “good communicators”, “interested in feedback,” “resourceful” (using the help of more different people as resources), and “open minded.” #3 is essentially about courage, not mentioned on the “Characteristics” page. However, it includes some of the traits they mention: “confidence” in one’s ideas and vision, taking “initiative,” and “being “flexible/adaptable” and “open to change.”

So although these two sources look at leadership from very different angles, there are many similarities in the qualities they find important.

You can practice much of this vocabulary, with Leadership Crossword (right-click to download) and its answers.

A number of the terms on the “Characteristics of Leadership” reading are also discussed on Social Change Vocabulary.

(I’m working on making English Detective shorter and easier to use. One way is to skip the long vocabulary explanations. Instead, check your understanding of the vocabulary with the crossword.)

The internet offers a lot of discussions of leadership. In fact, there are more than 12 interesting (and very different) evaluations of leadership just among TED talks. (If you are interested, there is a playlist with 10 of them on the same page as the talk in this newsletter.) I hope you enjoy thinking about these ideas, as well as the English vocabulary they demonstrate.

Coming in the next issue:
How Mayors Can Change the World

(city leadership.)

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