Leadership is More than a Job Title
Can you be an authority, but not a leader? Can you show leadership with no real authority?
Yes! Some people are “born leaders” and some are just promoted there.
A colleague once referred to it as ‘personal power vs. position power’.
You can be a leader because people trust and follow you, no matter your job title.
If you’re a leader with a position of authority, you can make a real difference (or do more damage). Just because you’re an authority figure with higher ‘rank’ doesn’t mean you’re a true leader to your team.
People will likely listen to you as an authority, but will they really support to your vision, mission and goals? The resounding answer from employees is “No!” if you’re an authority, who holds only the power of a job title.
In an era where American manufacturing needs to rally all the troops, and Boards want to only see results, being an authority without leadership is a dangerous position to be in.
Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe
We found a great TED Talk by Simon Sinek called ‘Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe’ that really gets to the heart of the difference between a true leader and someone in the position of authority. In about 12 minutes, he gives some amazing insights, and ways you can change things around to make yourself a better leader, no matter your job title!
In it, he talks about creating a safe-feeling environment for employees, one where trust and cooperation are easily earned and given.
The need for a safe environment stems from a sense of social safety in our tribe, which is a primal thing for humans, coming from pre-historic times and dangers lurking all around. What was once life-threatening-danger from beasts and famine, is now career-threatening danger from falling-profit margins and leap-frogging technology.
They key is that great leaders will not sacrifice the people for the numbers, but will sacrifice the numbers for the people.
One of his final, most interesting points is that leadership is a choice, not a rank, and that people can be leaders with no real authority. All it takes is looking out for others in your tribe, whether it’s a baseball team or a billion-dollar-business.
But it’s not just a one-person effort.
Turning Employees Into Leaders
The other Leadership article that caught our attention is one by Avery Augustine for The Muse entitled 5 Strategies that will Turn Your Employees Into Leaders.
After all, she points out, eventually your career will grow and change, and you may be expected to fill your own shoes.
“Of course, being a manager isn’t all about you – it’s important to instill leadership skills in your employees for the good of their careers, too.”
Developing the leadership skills of employees takes time, energy and a solid strategy.
In the article, there are 5 keys to doing this:
Teach Employees to Network – encouraging employees to branch out and meet other like-minded people helps them develop vital communication skills.
Give Them the Right Experience – identify projects that can help employees grow, expand their skill sets and interact more with others.
Allow Them to Struggle a Little – instead of always providing the answer, encourage employees to find it on their own with some guidance.
Be a Mentor – whether it’s learning new things, talking about goals, ideas or struggles, structure the advice you give to provide insights and encouragement to your employees.
Create an Ownership Mentality – even if you coach employees every day, they won’t actually step up to the leadership plate unless they feel valued and trusted (see video above), and know that their independent actions can have a real impact.
How Do Your Leadership Skills Stack Up?
We’d love to hear your feedback on successful leadership strategies that you’ve implemented.
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