Recently I received this question . . . How can a leader obtain legitimacy?
Before I replied, I pulled several resources and begin to write. Of course, nothing is simple . . . I accidently terminated the email before I submitted my answer! But, I did not give up! Here’s how I responded . . .
You have asked a very complex question using just a few words. In most cases, legitimate leaders are recognized though their consistent behavior that generates respect, trust, and accountability from those in the group. Two books I suggest for your reading include “The Truth about Leadership” by Kouzes & Posner and “Real Leadership” by Dean Williams. Both books will give you insight into the characteristics and practices of a person with influence.
From my personal experience, I have found that legitimacy is defined by time and consistent behavior. Does the person have a vision/focus for creating a better environment/community? Is the person willing to ask the right questions and move planning into action? Will the person encourage others to work and build their own legitimate leadership style? Will the leader support and celebrate others as they achieve success without having to receive the recognition?
Every day you will work to do your tasks with the best thinking, skills, and talents you have to offer. Every day you will build your reputation as a leader. It really is up to you what that reputation will be.
What would you have said?