I believe that truly great leaders are timeless and can lead in any situation.
However, most leaders are situational leaders, and by that I mean that they can lead in certain situations perhaps because of some situational knowledge or some other quality that they posses. Unfortunately, when leaders do a good job in a certain situations they usually get the opportunity to lead again. This is where the truly genuine leaders will separate themselves from the situational leaders. Thus, the expirate date begins.
Great leaders are timeless and can lead through a variety of situations and circumstances.
Much of my background is from high tech companies and I was able to achieve success leading teams where I may not have had the deep technical knowledge that the team members had. But, that’s ok as my job was not to write the code but rather to lead the team and to know enough of the technology (substitute your product here) to know when I was getting a line of BS and when I was hearing the truth.
Think “University meets YouTube“
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In the business world, leadership is about finding solutions and helping clear barriers out of the way so that people can get their job done.
If my theory is correct, and I think it is, I hardly blame the leader. Rather, I blame their management for not recognizing the capabilities of a situational leader. I think we have all seen this happen.
If you find yourself in a leadership position, then I urge you to always perform an assessment of your skills and the situation that you are in. Ask for feedback from all around you: your peers, your direct reports and management with regards to how they see things. This will help you gauge your effectiveness and will provide you with a system of checks-and-balances.
Also, when asking for feedback, be clear in what you are doing. You are not asking for consensus, but for input to how they see the environment and help you asses your skills. If you are a situational leader, then have fun with it. But also recognize that you may be more a manager than a leader and over time you will most likely need to change roles.