Leadership does it exist in the way HR and business aspires, or is it just smoke and mirrors?
Let me start by saying that I do believe that leadership is different from management. That there are many Leaders in the world, and they make a big difference to people around them. That in almost every business and organization there are undoubtedly leaders… jut not where business owners, shareholders, HR and others expect them.
What do I mean?
In politics and public life there are leaders, people that others want to follow. Some many of us agree with, others may have questionable beliefs, but if people choose to follow, who are we to disagree the presence of leadership. In many sporting teams, there are people that change organisations and teams just to be with a leader they respect. In motor sport, when a top engineer leaves one team to join another, often others follow, for its about respecting the skills of that person.
Is it the same in business?
There is a simple reality in the majority of businesses (of all sizes) that makes the situation very different. People are paid to do a job. Whilst we may want people to do the job and be a leader, it is rarely a requirement for success. Just look at the stock market reactions to leavers and joiners of “senior leaders”, often it is more about their history, than the people they direct to do things with or for them.
Often a true leader does not “deliver” themselves, but they inspire people around them to deliver. Hiring a leader without the key followers is therefore pure folly. It takes time for a leader to buildup a “following”, because of course one cannot be a leaders without followers. And followers choose who they “go the extra mile” for. It’s about going beyond the job description, and role boundaries.
Do we really need many leaders in orgs?
Look in 99% of mist larger firms and you will see “leadership” training courses, coaching programmes and other things. But do they really add value? Do they actually work? What about the basics…. can they manage?
We may teach leadership skills, but if the person does not have the ability to manage first, and have the appropriate interpersonal skills, are they really a “leader” or have we fallen for the trap of calling everyone “leaders” and actually undermine what leadership is truly about?
Our true leaders will not be found on courses, but deep in the pit of where troubles are in our businesses and organizations, for they are the ones people follow and work with to solve.
What do you think?