I have always written about what it means to be a GREAT Manager. I guess the first thing is that you have to be a GREAT person. That would probably be the first step in recognizing what is or is not “great.” In a discussion with my guidepost last night, he helped me understand what “greatness” is all about. My thoughts about real greatness in a person are part of my blog today.

The definition of “greatness” is defined by others, always. It is not something we can define or declare with our own thoughts and perspectives about our self-image. It is defined by those whom we work with or move throughout life with. One time, a very long time ago, my oldest son said, “dad, you are a great dad and I did not realize how wise you really were until now.” It was a wonderful thing to hear and has been part of our relationship since the day he told me. All parents want their children to think they are great. A small thing for many but a tremendous pouring of emotions and feelings for others and for me his words were very emotional. I have never forgotten.

What is greatness? It is something observed and potentially not measured but recognized by many people consistently over time. It is when you give everything you can to others without any intended interest in meeting your own needs. It is about how you do the right things the right way. It is more than just giving back to others; it is about giving back with all of your heart, soul and mind. It is about what the heart knows and the head will admit is the truth. It is about what you say, how you say it and when you say it that has nothing to do with power, advancement or manipulation of the truth. It is not about half truths but whole truths. It is about friendships that last through all challenges. It is about caring for someone more than you care for yourself and having that caring recognized for what it really is, deep appreciation for another human being. It is about love, true friendship and a desire to make the connection between what is real and what is not.

You cannot measure or defined greatness without feedback or a declaration by others. We do the best we can to make a difference in the lives of people we touch every day, with excellence. That excellence is measured and defined by others. It is never defined by us and can never be defined by self.

The other thing that most of us need to realize is that true greatness does not exist in many but in a few. A very few can potentially be defined as great but that number is so small, smaller than the number of those who may define themselves as great leaders or managers. The first step in this declaration is to be a great person. The rest of the declaration will come from others and then with a great deal of humility, be recognized only by the great manager or leader as something to be attained and not reached. To be a great leader or manager is a journey that really never ends. There may be a starting point in this journey but there is never an end point.

In my 40 years of management I have known two great individuals. It was not about their profession that made them great. It was about their strength of character and willingness to make a difference in the lives of those people they touched every day, with excellence. Yes, just two people. Both of these individuals have made an indelible impression on me that will never leave me. That is what greatness is all about…leaving a lifetime impression that will never leave you. I hope your find that one person in your life that has made a difference in your life through their greatness.

Jim received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Human Resource Development and has over 40 years of management experience in 5 different industries. He has consulted for Raytheon, Century 21 and Motorola. He retired in 2005 as the Sr. VP, Human Resources for Trident Health System (an HCA facility). His specialty is talent-based organizational development. Jim has recently accepted a position with Shorter University as the Associate Vice President for Online and Professional Education. Shorter University's primary campus is located in Rome, Georgia. His role will include the strategic management of online programs for the university to include the College of Adult and Professional Programs located in Rome and Atlanta. Dr. Jones is looking forward to helping change the lives of those he touches every day in the pursuit of excellence in adult education. This includes students, faculty and staff.