KrazyTA, a regular commenter on the blog, offered his definition of leadership in dialogue with other readers. It got a great response.
“I once had a job where I was a clerk typist in an academic library. I had three supervisors: from the bottom up they were a librarian-in-training, a professional librarian, and the librarian who ran the entire department I worked in. **Not bragging: I was a good enough typist that I secured several jobs largely because of my typing skills.** Not just in my evaluations [I did very well indeed] but in my day-to-day work, I never resented any one of them evaluating me or offering me suggestions or guidance. It took me a while to figure out why I enjoyed working ‘under’ them, but it finally dawned on me: any one of them, if necessary, could have done my [overall] job as well or better than I could. That’s why they didn’t [and didn’t need to] bully or order me into doing anything: I knew they understand what I was doing, and how to get it done, and what limitations I worked under, and their orders never needed to be more than gentle suggestions because they really and truly knew what needed to be done and the practicalities of how to get from here to there. I wish I could say all my jobs were like that, but why spoil your day and mine?
“In other words, moral leadership, modesty and personal example. The accountabullies know about carrots and sticks because you can add those up, divide ‘em into percentages, use ‘em in ever greater quantities to humiliate teaching staff—but moral leadership and modesty and personal example, now where would that fit into a VAManiac’s neat little faux formula?”