In organizations, I have seen people who are “designated” as leaders. I have seen many such designated leaders, who raised their game to meet the expectations that come along with leadership. They make an effort to learn about leadership, read books, blogs and consciously put those lessons in action.
On the other hand, I have also seen designated leaders who create a shield of air around themselves. This is where most of the leadership problems stem from, simply because a leadership position flames their ego and just makes them more authoritative. They get too focused on their own selves (heroes in their own minds).
But the best leaders I have seen never paid any attention to their position or rank within the organization. Their focus is external – on doing what is right for the organization/their vision, on developing people around them and in building systems that constantly help them deliver better results. They don’t see themselves as leaders, but let others do that judgment.
I came across a very interesting story of Hewlett-Packard while reading Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline” –
A Hewlett-Packard employee studying the company’s history once asked co-founder David Packard about his theory of leadership. She reported that after a long pause, he said simply, “I don’t know about theories of leadership. Bill [Hewlett, the co-founder] and I were just doing what we loved and were so delighted that people wanted to join us.
Leadership is not as much about having other people as subordinates/followers, as it is about subordinating to a cause. It is not as much about charisma, as it is about delivering the right results.
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Related Post: Quick Thought on Leadership and Subordination to a Cause