Lately it appears that everyone in the consulting game is an expert in leadership. With so many leadership consultants, why do we seem to have such a need for more leadership learning?
Do we need confirmation that we have the leadership model, right? Perhaps someone else’s leadership model is better than ours, or perhaps, we just don’t understand our own relationship with leadership and therefore we miss the available opportunities to invoke or develop the leadership within us or around us.
Everybody I work with in regards to leadership in the workplace will at some point demonstrate their own relationship with leadership. Some may present this relationship through positive engagement or positive disengagement and others through sabotage.
Leadership is not a natural characteristic that is given to all human beings at birth. Some of our best leaders are those that have been shaped through evidence based practices in what is known to be mentoring the leadership skills. Many people believe that leaders are management and management are leaders, however this couldn’t be further from the truth in the reality of mentoring leadership in many organisations. On the inside of this, many leaders see themselves as unworthy of management as they will question what doesnt seem right, or they simply are afraid they won’t “fit in” with the clicky relationships.
Our relationship with leadership is pretty much reflective of our competence in our Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI). The facts that can sit uncomfortably with management is that some of their best leaders are the staff at the frontline in the services. Dare I say the the ones beneath them. What is truly being missed is the nature of diversity in leadership and utilising our leaders effectively.
One fact is that leadership exists across the whole platform of a business and true leaders are often missed or misinterpreted as “trouble makers” and “non team players” more often than not. You see, leaders are often right in their values and principles when making decisions or coming up with ideas. Leaders question things they believe to be “wrong” or in need of improvement. Leaders have confidence in what they do, have the backbone to disagree and are committed to delivering results. Leaders like to invent and simplify things, having a can do approach means they will take risks in their bias for action. They think big.
On the other hand leaders are also highly self critical and take ownership of what they do and therefore in turn their mistakes. Without the intention to be personally successful, some leaders can be set up and negatively lead through their relationships in the workplace. The retro relationship that can be built with leadership may often be one that is criticised in the workplace and “punishable by death” in their role, through the stealth and strategy of managers who don’t want these leaders to succeed, and in particularly make them look bad as managers and “leaders” themselves.
In Australia we call this the tall poppy syndrome, where we wait with baited breath for the person who is succeeding and being a leader, who will eventually make a mistake or be lead into a corner, where the moment to strike is NOW!. The relationship here is territorial and again based in threat. Potential leaders see this in the workplace and make strategic maneuvers not to be noticed, or to simply fly under the radar. They see the relationship with leadership at the top end of the business to be one of guaranteed failure if you cannot conform to the management directive.
For me the relationship is success. Identifying and hiring the right people for the right jobs. Developing the leadership model through education about leadership in the organisation based of empowering leadership within each role. Recognising and rewarding leadership when it appears in the daily activities that staff do everyday. Providing opportunities for leadership to flourish and valuing leadership as a quality that can be nurtured and developed in all staff regardless of their role.
Not all leaders want to be at the top of the food chain and not all leaders aspire to be managers. leaders light fires in people and motivate those around them to reach up and above the expectations. They have strong customer obsession and think about the results for all involved (respect). Managers light fires under people, they operate often in transactional leadership models which can blind them to the leadership potential around or “underneath” them. My advice today is to look inside yourself and understand your own emotional intelligence when you think about leadership and your relationship with it. Perhaps you’re a leader waiting to wake up, or perhaps you’re a manager who wants to be seen as a leader. In the end no matter what may occur, we are responsible for our own leadership and the relationships we build with it and our leaders. Understand this final point. Their will always be leaders and leadership. It will be your relationship with it that counts.