On Leadership

There are more books about leadership than, as we would say in the southern United States, “than Carter’s has liver pills”.   In our youth we play games like “follow the leader” and professionally we are reminded to “lead by example”.  Yet, despite all of this collected wisdom, ineffective leaders are commonplace in business, including those who:
– are of the mind that what is good for them is always good for the enterprise
– lack courage and can only get along by going along
– present well, but who have no business sense, lacking substance
– have been promoted well beyond their ability
– are simply crooks . . .I could go on

How does this happen?  Why do so many settle for so little when it comes to leadership?   How do ineffective leaders slip past personnel committees and those who promote them?

Perhaps part of the problem is that in most companies’ leadership and management have been conflated.    Often one sees organizational charts where upper management is referred to as Leadership.  But is this model – borrowed no doubt from the military – the best?     Management is primarily a set of skills which practice can improve – how to match resources with needs, setting and meeting budgets, the development of plans and the like.       Leadership is more of a state of being – the ability to spot and capitalize on opportunity, development of new technologies and methods, the ability to develop trust, taking risks commensurate with reward – the list goes on.     Invariably the ability of good leaders who are put in management positions is muted by the manifold machinations of managing, of running the business.      Thus, the challenge is to give leaders who are not managers a mandate to influence and to reward them similarly as those in management.   Furthermore, those skilled in management must not be compelled to always seek the leadership limelight, rather they must create an environment where leaders can lead and excel, pulling the enterprise along with them.  

To reinterpret another leadership quote that is almost cliché – “Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way “– means in order to lead, management must follow or get out of the way altogether.
#leadership #management #development

Image: Tea Time       

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