Chapter 13You Are the Catalyst!

The Challenge

For years, leadership pundits, authors, teachers, and experts have created complex and often too detailed job descriptions that confuse a leader as to what his or her ultimate role is within an organization. In the last chapter, I presented three areas where leaders tend to overmanage so that you may become more aware of when you're off track in vital leadership responsibilities. In the vein of keeping it simple (after all, it's not rocket science), I want to break those three roles down into one simple word that I believe may be the best one-word definition of a leader's role within an organization—catalyst.

The Leader as a Catalyst!

The dictionary defines catalyst as “a person or thing that precipitates an event or change” (, n.d.). Rarely does such an economy of words so accurately describe the expected role of a leader day in, day out. The bottom line is this: Leaders get paid to execute and to make things happen both personally and through each team member. No high-value leader goes to work each day to wait for something to happen, to watch it happen, or to wonder at day's end, “What happened?” Unfortunately, many low-value leaders routinely perform in this manner, by waiting until time is about to run out to find some heart, guts, or urgency or demonstrate true leadership (stretching, staying in the trenches, and changing before they have to). In fact, many organizations are burdened with at least one or two ...

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