Is Achieving Great Success A Leadership Prerequisite?

I was listening to a Sports Radio station in the car a few days ago.  The discussion centered around different leaders in sports and their accomplishments — number of “Rings” or medals.  In each situation, the people identified by the hosts were great athletes and deserved the accolades for their accomplishments. They also were leaders on their team.  When trying to determine which athlete was a better leader, much of the discussion centered around their achievements on the field, in the ring or on ice.

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This got me thinking.  Are the best leaders the people who have achieve great success in their career.  In the CFL this is the Grey Cup, the Super Bowl in the NFL, or the Stanley Cup in hockey… to name a few.  In business, have the best leaders been individuals who have won awards for “The Fastest Growing Company” or a “40 Under 40″ award?

If we look at the traits of a good leader, it is a person who has a clear vision and is able to communicate this vision to others and engage them so they follow and support this vision.  How many great leaders have made a huge impact yet have not achieve great personal or professional success?

I don’t have the answer to this question but I do believe there are many great leaders who do not achieve great success in ways we normally recognize.  In fact, one key trait of a leader is to focus on the greater good, not necessarily their own agenda.  I contend leadership and accomplishments are not one and the same.

Can a good leader be an average person with a large vision, strong communication skills and average personal results?  Leaders do not work in isolation.  Can the success many leaders achieve be connected to their ability to attract and engage people with great skill who help them to fulfill their vision?

I’m interested in your thoughts on this topic.

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