Public Leadership Starts in the Mirror


By Michael Gidlewski

In my last column, I wrote about personal leadership and how, in order to become our own leader, we need to look within and reassess the limits we’ve set for ourselves.

Now, I’d like to discuss public leadership and what traits are necessary to be an effective leader of others.

There is mounting evidence that a number of our organizations and businesses today are in real trouble. We need to take ownership of that. If we can’t evolve and learn new ways to serve our customers, employees, and stakeholders better, another company that is developing its leadership will.

We are in a serious leadership crisis in America, and we need to get our act together sooner, rather than later if we are even going to have a future.

Peter Block has authored several books on topics such as organizational development, community building, and civic engagement. He wrote that “stewardship begins with the willingness to be accountable for some larger body than ourselves – a choice of service over self-interest. We serve best through partnership, rather than patriarchy. Genuine service requires us to act on our own account.

“We cannot be stewards and expect someone else to take care of us. Only by rediscovering what it means to commit ourselves to acts of service will we succeed. Each of us needs to believe the organization is ours to create.”

John C. Maxwell is another writer whose work tackles issues of leadership. He coined the phrase “The Law of the Lid” to describe stagnant leaders who function as the lid that prevents their employees from reaching their full potential.

Often leaders forget that their own personal growth determines the growth of their followers. No organization, no group of people can outgrow the leader. If the CEO is not committed to his or her own growth, then the organization will eventually fail.

These leaders who have stopped growing often blame their employees for poor results. They may pick apart every little thing someone does. They become the ultimate micro-managers.

Don’t be the lid for your organization or for any group of people you lead. Commit to your own personal development. Never stop learning and growing.

If you want a creative explosion to take place, if you want the kind of performance that leads to truly exceptional results, you have to identify areas of improvement for not only the group, but also yourself. Be as open to constructive criticism as you want your workers to be.

We all share a tendency toward denial, and as a result, we’ve developed an emotionally comfortable strategy that protects us from the distress that comes with acknowledging the harsh truth.

Open yourself up to the truth. And the others in your group will follow suit.


Mike500-210x300Michael Gidlewski is President of Achievement Unlimited as well as a corporate coach and motivational speaker. He works with motivated business owners, entrepreneurs and consultants to clearly define the elements of what they dearly want their lives to look like then helps them connect all the moving parts that make up those visions to consistent action and habits. Michael can be reach at 610-793-6609 or via email at

Top photo credit: Katie Reflecting Light via photopin (license)

Join Our Community

Never miss a Delaware County story!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.