Why Real Great Leaders Are Not About Titles Or About Squeezing Lemons?
You are a real great leader when you have a discipline (at any management level), to take pride in your work and enable others to do the same
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Thought Leadership: In my daily engagements as a leadership and performance coach and management consultant, I interact and learn with many people. Many see leaders as those with power and position. This opinion of leadership by most, assumes that leaders are the few people at the top of an organisation or the people in senior management. However, this mindset is far placed from the truth!
Position, title and hierarchical chairs are often confused with leadership. We often read news reports that refer to anyone with a title as a "leader". However, leadership is not an actual designation or a title. Whether you're the president or prime minster of a country or a chief executive officer, Director or Vice President, your title does not make you a leader. It is like thinking that all movie heroes are real heroes who truly perform heroic acts. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many have even written books on this topic "You don't need titles to be a leader or The Leader with no title or etc.". However, the one practical and most critical insight needed in the workplace, to understand why leadership is not a title or position is missing in these books.
As I work, engage and interact with several people in Fortune 500 businesses and other Large, Medium and Small organisations across sectors in different geographies, I have learned the one big lament of most managers about how they need to constantly follow up with their direct reports and others to get work done.
Now the big insight is that if we cannot even get work done from our direct reports, who we appraise and rank for their variables or incentives, pray how can we get work done from our peers or supervisors or others who do not report to us and are not dependent on us for their appraisals.
In most organisations, managers use the carrot and stick to get work done. They supervise, manipulate people and try to get the results. In short most are squeezing lemons to get the juice without realizing that someone is also squeezing them as lemons. So practically almost every manager is like a lemon and lemon squeezer and trying to extract as much juice out as possible. That is because everyone is working from their title or designation and one even told me in a leadership workshop that he would like to learn how to extract more juice from the lemons and I said to him that's not what I teach.
Here's something even scarier than Donald Trump's hairdo and rhetoric: A lot of people who are just starting out as intern/ executives/managers/ in business have taken many of their ideas about how to succeed from The Apprentice. While the show speaks on out-of-the-the-box thinking, and resourcefulness, it also showed contestants scheming, manipulating, feigning team-spirit, and lying to beat their teammates and competitors for the single position in Trump's organization. It promotes a 'win' at all costs' culture. Had these stories taken place in a real company with real colleagues, most of the young executives would have earned the distrust, not the respect, of others. Managers like these people in the show, continually display many bad behaviours and beliefs of pretender leaders and very few or no hallmarks of real leaders.
Idea for Action: Many think management is about manipulation and squeezing lemons to achieve results and career growth. How misinformed they are? In truth Leadership is a choice of a win-win mindset. Leadership is not about titles, designations or power for squeezing lemons and getting results with stick or carrot. Leadership is about breaking this vicious circle of squeezing lemons and creating a virtuous circle to unleash potential of people. Leadership is about creating one's own trustworthiness, personal credibility and influence, to get work done from anyone including the boss/ supervisor, peers and any team member. As a Real leader, you build relationships of trust across the organisations with peers, seniors and direct reports and get great results as a manifestation of that trust. You ignite fires in people to give their best and fuel their aspiration.
You are a real great leader when you have a discipline (at any management level), to take pride in your work and enable others to do the same. As a real leader, you create a positive environment and culture where others feel empowered to share ideas and provide solutions. You do not need to provide solutions all the time, since you enable others to do so. As a real leader, you do not create a vision by yourself, but you engage your peers and direct reports to co-create a shared vision and team-purpose as a foundation for a collectively owned strategy and execution plan. The journey towards Real Leadership begins with an interdependent attitude, where you know that your success is dependent on the success of all your team members across levels. Real Leaders sincerely support and empower all people to grow.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.