WARNING: This might offend —
“Leadership” is the most over-emphasized ability, over-used buzzword, over-stressed quality, and the most misunderstood concept in the organizational world today.
Yep, I went there. 😉
The #1 Problem in Organizations
The Number One problem in organizations today is not a “lack of leadership.”
It is untrained people managers.
In the training field since 1986, I’ve heard the clamor for “leadership.” You have, too …
“Emerging leader” programs abound in corporations.
“Leaders raising leaders” is a dominant theme in churches.
“Unleash the leader within you” is screeched by ranting speakers.
“Leadership Qualities” is a rated category on performance reviews.
Question: How many books have been written on leadership?
Answer: Too many.
The number of definitions that exist for the word “leadership” might just number in the — well, too many range.
Everyone wants to be a leader, unleash the leader, emerge as a leader, and raise up more leaders—but no one can define “leadership.”
Sorry, but it’s all just too funny to me. 😆
The Confusion About Leadership
So often in training classes, boardroom gatherings, seminars, and “lunch and learns,” someone poses this question: What is more important to our organizational success, management or leadership?
You know what the preferred answer is 95% of the time.
Training programs are titled “Moving from Manager to Leader,” as if being a manager means you’re not quite there. People are simply obsessed with the idea of leadership. Not that there’s anything wrong with leadership. The problem is, we lift up leadership at the expense of management. I’ve heard many times, “Managers manage tasks, but leaders lead people” and “Management is doing things right, but leadership is doing the right things.”
What’s Lost When We Vaunt “Leadership”
When everything is all about “leadership,” we often miss out on quality, skilled people management — and that’s not good. Why? Because this is still true:
People don’t leave organizations. They leave managers.
The reality is, the vast majority of managers have never been trained. Promoted, yes. Trained, no.
Are you a manager of people? Then this is what you and all “aspiring leaders” need to know: Effective people management is leadership.
The Truth Of The Matter
When people describe their boss as a “leader” and are asked to articulate specifically what that person does to “lead”—this is what we hear:
My boss communicated what I should do
She followed up with me consistently.
When I got it right, he praised me.
She told me when I was off track.
He talked to me—and listened.
I was trained and coached.
She spent time with me.
He showed me respect.
Guess what? Every item above is a people management skill. It’s what effective managers do, day in and day out, with and for their people.
The Call To Action
It’s time to stop glorifying leadership over management. Let’s recognize when a boss is called a “great leader,” he/she is first an outstanding manager.
If you’re a manager or hope to be one, get rid of all those I’m a Leader Because I Climbed a Mountain books and become the best people manager possible. Then, when your team praises you for your “amazing leadership,” you’ll know it’s really just about managing people and managing them well
Managers, get trained. Your team will thank you for it.
Ready to dig deeper and become an outstanding manager?
Learn more about being outstanding in the book titled … Outstanding!