The success of any organization be it a business, non-profit, educational institution or government, depends on its people. All the fancy strategies, creations and technology mean absolutely nothing without people to make it happen. In fact, people have to develop those strategies and make decisions about using them. People have to create the products and services offered. People have to decide the quality and service standards of the organization. People have to design and maintain the technology. That’s on top of the people who make the products, deliver the service and provide all the administrative support. People are the organization.
That’s why it’s all about people who can lead. People at all levels in any organization have to assume a leadership role. Either that or nothing gets done. Or it doesn’t get done right. While the typical knee jerk reaction is to think of those people as the ones with the important titles, the truth is that leadership has zero to do with ones position or title. You can be a great leader without any title. In fact, the most successful organizations all have people in every function working along sides others with the same positions who assume leadership roles every day.
Those With The Titles Who Can’t Lead Destroy Results
And what about those with the important titles? Yes, it would be great if they were all effective leaders. In the best organizations, most of them are. But there are simply too many people with titles who either can’t or won’t lead. A title does not make one a leader. People with titles who fail to lead are the barrier that holds organizations back, causes them to lose customers, run cost that are too high, deliver poor quality or service, cause poor coordination and teamwork among functions, departments and divisions, and mess up the administrative support systems. They undermine these organizations missions, strategies and standards.
What organization could possibly afford the enormous cost of poor leadership? And yet too many organizations allow individuals to hold important management and supervisory titles who can’t lead and they don’t do anything about it. They either need to develop these people into Character Based Leaders, demote them or fire them. And they need to do this right now, today.
The ability to effectively lead must be a mandatory requirement for anyone with an executive, manager, or supervisory title. It needs to become the new line in the sand for anyone who oversees other people. Bestowing a title does not make one a leader. You can normally tell who will be a good leader because they are already acting like a leader without the title and people are following them even though the organization hasn’t bestowed them with any authority.
True Leaders Don’t Need A Title Or Authority
One of the best examples of this I can remember happened when I started working for a bicycle distributor in the 70’s. I took off my coat and tie as a restaurant general manager and put on a khaki uniform with work boots so I could learn this new industry from the ground up by starting in the warehouse. The warehouse had a great manager named George and an able assistant named Jesus. Sometimes both George and Jesus had to leave the warehouse to attend management meetings or handle special problems.
After they left, productivity would start to unravel amongst the warehouse crew. Things slowed down and coordination between pickers, inspectors and packers broke down as well. But only for a short while. Because every single time George and Jesus left, Skip, one of the warehouse workers would fill the leadership void and soon the warehouse was humming along as if George and Jesus had never left. No one asked him to do this. George never said anything to the crew about Skip assuming this role. He just stepped up to the plate and made it happen every single time.
In the thirty different industries I’ve worked with as a consultant, I have seen the Skips of the world stand up and lead their fellow workers. The workers would follow them and do what needed to be done yet the Skips had no titles nor any authority bestowed on them to perform this role. But if they hadn’t, performance would have suffered. In those organizations where no Skips stepped up to the plate, I witnessed disasters unfold before my very eyes. The people with the titles just can’t be there every minute to lead the team. And if they are there, they actually need to lead, not just manage.
In truth, every employee needs to lead some of the time and everyone with a title needs to lead all of the time. Leadership development is for every employee who works for an organization, not just the anointed ones. When you develop leaders this way, you always have people ready for promotion that can and will lead.
Schedule a phone conversation with Don Shapiro, President of First Concepts Consultants, to answer your questions and explore how this discussion could help your organization.
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