in Career Development

Quick Thought on Leadership and Subordination to a Cause

If you are a manager or leader, you are very likely to have followers whom we commonly refer to as ‘subordinates.’ In an organizational context, subordination refers to a lower position in the hierarchy. A leader is placed at a higher rank and subordinates are at a lower rank. That is the common perception, and also a reality in many organizations even today.

Key question that leaders need to ask themselves – “If people are subordinates, what are they subordinating to?” In my view, people never subordinate other people. They are subordinates to a cause. In that sense, even a leader is a subordinate to a cause.

How sad it is to see that leaders treat other people as ‘their’ subordinates. They are not. Their subordination is towards a cause. The cause of successfully completing the project. The cause of building a memorable organization. The cause of building a great team.

Leaders may be the initiators of such causes. But that does not mean they treat others as ‘their’ subordinates.

It always helps to explain this to your people and align them to a cause. Role of leader is to empower people to achieve the results. Alignment of each team member to goal/results leads to a flat structure where role of a leader is that of an enabler. Leader enables people to bring their best to work. When a leader consistently enables, empowers, motivates and serves his people, he truly subordinates the cause of building a great team that delivers great results.

No one is anyone’s subordinate, but everyone is a subordinate to a cause.

Have a very productive week ahead!

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P.S: Here is a GREAT QUOTE I read over at “Talking Story” blog hosted by Rosa Say. The quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson brilliantly sums up the way one should approach every new day. Here it goes:

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. This is said brilliantly.
    “Subordinates” is an ugly word unless we are all subordinate to a cause.
    Thank you for once again being counter-cultural in your leadership paradigm.
    Andrew S. Dungan

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