“Why would anyone want to be a leader?” This question came from a senior executive who had just gone through a series of leadership skills coaching sessions with me. As her idea of leadership shifted from what was carefully formed during the earlier years of her life, to what true leadership is with its responsibilities, price and sacrifices. I understood where she was coming from. For many, the idea of leadership formed in our earlier years of development is probably not the true one – think about it.
If you are like me, you probably grew up with parents and older siblings telling you what to do and what not to do. The same was true at school; class leaders were given special treatments and authority to supervise the classrooms which included activities like: cleaning, roll calls, reporting students who were out of line depending on their (class leader’s) perspective.
Moving on after school, as a junior staff at work, I thought leadership meant staff who occupied bigger and better offices, coupled with heavy titles, and greater professional perks one could only dream about. It was easy to think “Wow! a higher leadership position must surely be awesome!”
With that picture in mind, I formed an unbalanced perception of leadership. I believed that leadership is position. You have a title, status and position. You tell people what to do, you reprimand those who do not comply with set processes and procedures, and most importantly, you get special benefits and privileges.
It was not long after I rose to managerial roles in the corporate world and after years of coaching that I realized that “the position doesn’t make a leader, a leader makes the position!” You are a leader only if you’re making things better for your people. In other words, people’s lives are much better because you are their leader.
John C. Maxwell affirms that “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Speaking at a leadership conference, Simon Sinek, author of “Leaders Eat Last.“, put it this way “You are not in charge, you are responsible for those in your charge”. He believes that the primary role of a leader is to create a conducive safe environment for their team.
Reflections Leadership is about serving those who are in your charge. Leadership is not about you! What are you doing today to add value to your people?