Questions about leadership often
present themselves at the most unsuspecting times and
example, I was watching Toy Story 3 the other night with
my daughter Leila, for about the 50th time, when Lotso
the bear says (referring to Buzz) "He has Initiative; he
I found myself drifting away from the story and
wondering why and how we usually refer to these two
experience this interchangeability all the time.
We see it when the person who speaks up in a meeting is
now expected to lead the charge. Or the person who
offers to take on a task or to tackle a problem is
suddenly asked to be the committee chair. No
matter what organization I have worked with: for-profit,
not-for-profit, volunteer-based, or employee-based, when
someone shows some initiative....bam, they are assigned
a leadership task.
two are not synonymous. In fact, most of the time
strong initiators aren't the best leaders because they
are usually most comfortable doing, not guiding.
Or they may only be motivated to do the doing, not
the next problem these organizations confront is that
now that they have the "leaders" established, they can't
find any doers to populate the "groups".
That's because they have taken all the initiators and
made them leaders instead of placing those who want to
do the doing where they can be most
having doers in leadership roles, they struggle to
recruit or motivate other doers and they end up working
leaders need to have the ability to initiate and to do,
having initiative does not automatically mean you are
able to lead others.
time managers of people realize this right away.
After being promoted over time for their ability to
initiate and get things done, when they start to manage
others, these behaviors need to shift. They need
to start guiding more and be less in control of the
I was confronted with the interchangeability of these
terms. I reached out to the newly appointed PTA
president at my daughter's school. I simply said
in an email, "Let me know if I can assist you with
be expected, she quickly responded with a request for me
to take on a leadership role for an event. I
quickly responded saying that I didn't have the time for
the leadership role, but that I could help out at any
event given the time to plan. I was telling her
that I would be willing to be a doer for a set time
I had said the same thing and had a very similar
exchange with past presidents.
know what? They never called on me to
what will happen with the current PTA administration
since it is still early in the process, but this example
points out an important message.
forming committees or teams to tackle problems or
programs, it's best to find the doers first and place
them in areas where their contributions can be put to
work. Once these work groups are
established, you will be able to see if a leader arises
from the group through self-selection. Or, you may
find the leaders in the most unsuspecting places; shift
from seeking out only initiators, instead seek out the
thinker, the introvert or the generalist to help guide,
manage and inspire a group of subject matter experts and
and doing can be an essential component to effective
leadership, but it certainly is not synonymous with
out that Lotso had pegged Buzz half right; he did
have initiative, and he was an important doer,
but he wasn't the leader that got them out of
I guess it's your turn to watch
the movie to decide who successfully led the group.
join the Texas Women Who Rock September 7th on "Tapping into your
interested in developing yourself as a better leader and
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Lopez is an award-winning author of
Connected and Committed
Leader. She is also a
consultant, and a Birkman Method certified business
coach who has been featured on the Today Show ,Latina
Voices Smart Talk, Living Smart and Fox News
In addition, her accomplishments have been
highlighted in several business periodicals
including Personal Excellence, The Long Beach
Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina
Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her
articles on management and leadership are regularly seen
in Leadership Excellence.
Laura can be contacted via her Web site at: