Discovering LeadershipUnder Rocks and Logs

Nov 11, 2012

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All management positions are occupied by leaders.

True or False?

Answer: False

Leadership can be cultivated. It can be discovered within an employee, or it can be acquired. But to better understand how to identify leadership, we must first understand a common and problematic practice relative to management. Candidates are frequently placed into leadership roles based on prior performances that may not necessarily be associated with their ability to lead.

Consider a top producing salesperson. He is promoted to manager because he consistently exceeds sales projections. The premise being that because he is strong at selling, should he be promoted to manager, he would likewise transform everyone on his team into top performers. This assumptive practice is risky business.

The ability to outsell everyone in the company may or may not actually translate into the ability to lead others to do likewise. Often, businesses discover that the pressure of heightened management responsibilities combined with discrepancies in actual leadership skill can inflict such newly promoted managers with discouragement or loss of normal productivity. Ultimately, such discouragement may result in a feeling of failure, inadequacy, or even regret. In turn, while experiencing such turmoil, were the troubled manager then demoted or returned to his original station, he may never again attain his original level of sales performance.

This practice is especially common in corporations inherently devoid of competitive opportunities or where job placement is based upon one’s tenure or one’s relationship to existing leadership, rather than upon talent management practices.

Genuine leadership has very little to do with status, position, title, or income. It is larger than any of those. Leaders are cultivated. They are found all around. They are not obscure, just unrecognized. You may find them under rocks and logs. They are not hiding, just getting things done. Too often, leaders are scoped with the “crosshairs” set on the bottom-line numbers. Indeed they largely impact the bottom line but do so indirectly. Leaders impact those who impact the bottom line. Therein is the difference.

Leadership centers on the following triad:

  1. Leaders have the ability to foster in others the belief that they can accomplish the extraordinary.
  2. Characteristics associated with leadership can be learned and mastered.
  3. Leadership is the antecedent to lasting success.

Identifying Leaders

You can spot a leader. Here are a few targeting tips.

  • Leaders characteristically establish a reputation as being approachable and authentic. One who possesses the ability to effectively lead must first conquer self; not to the point of perfection, rather to the point of self awareness.
  • Leadership is not so much about the plaque on the door as it is the door being open. Generating loyalty among their counterparts, leaders receive company feedback as informational rather than abrasive.
  • Leaders promote safe interchange, increased harmony in the workplace, heightened productivity, and yearning for creativity.
  • Leaders tend to give recognition rather than seek it.
  • Leaders smile often. They see the glass half full and rising! They seem to know how to motivate others to accomplish any worthy ideal.

Leadership Practices

When provided true leadership, employees gain confidence in themselves and their fellow workers. They believe that they can accomplish the extraordinary. And typically they do.

Keys to promoting leadership include:

  • Establish competitive job opportunities and promote from within your company. Leaders must clearly see the way to advanced opportunity.
  • Nothing stifles creativity like someone taking credit for something someone else did. Foster those who give recognition for a job well done to those who actually got their hands dirty.
  • Promote those who get results through serving their team members.
  • Hold leaders accountable for people results and the number results will follow.
  • Construct one on one goal setting sessions with your leaders. Let the leader set the goals.

Imagine your management positions filled with leaders. What impact would that scenario have on the company? Happy hunting.

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