Where are all the Leaders?
I posted a question on Facebook this week asking what are the behaviors of a good leader . I usually don’t expect much from questions like this on Facebook, but this one was different. The answers I got from people were things you never hear about in a Leadership conference.
A lot of leaders think it is about the power. They will give the canned bullshit answers about being a servant leader until their ideas are challenged. It really is about their title. Give me my card that says CEO so I can gloat in my success. My way or the highway. We have all had people that we have worked for that have this issue – their EGO. I have to admit sometimes I do the same thing. A friend of mine, who most folks don’t see as a leader, taught me a valuable lesson one day while eating lunch, he said “I never have my title on my email signature or my business card. I want people to do business and work for me because of who I am.” I still have a meal with this man more than a few times a year, and I don’t have my title on my email signature. Power does not make you a leader.
A lot of leaders and are in their position because they are owners. There are a lot of great leaders who are owners but being an owner does not qualify you to be a leader. I have consulted with companies all over the country, and many times the true leader of a company isn’t recognized by management. I have been in this position personally and missed seeing others as leaders myself. Money does not make you a leader.
A lot of people who end up cast in the role of the leader are highly skilled technically. They are usually the smartest person in the room. They may have a skillset like engineering, programming, accounting or process skills. You know these people. They are the ones who discount everyone’s ideas and move forward with their own agendas no matter what. I got this T-shirt too. I have made this mistake more than once. I see this happen a lot with younger managers who are promoted because of their technical prowess. Intelligence does not make you a leader.
So, what makes a leader?
Leaders are people who recognize that their employees are the key to success; not structure, not product, not a web presence, not a great idea. It takes people who are committed to a common cause and loving each other in the process.
Here are the answers from my Facebook page this week.
- Active Listening was the number one answer.
- Willing to get in the trenches with their employees when it is needed.
- Knowing their employees personally, not just as a number.
- Listen to the squeaky wheels, don’t ignore them.
- Earn respect, don’t demand it.
- Take care of your employees and they will take care of you.
- Create opportunities for others.
- They take responsibility for the decisions, good or bad.
- They are consistent!
- They don’t sacrifice their personal integrity, and don’t ask others to sacrifice theirs for company goals.
It’s funny as I write the answers on this post and see the faces of the people that have worked with me and for me, I can’t help but be sad. I see my own personal failure in these areas. Maybe we don’t have leaders anymore because being a leader is hard.
Are we really taught to be leaders in our education system (High School/College)?
Are we taught at home to be leaders?
Do we have time to mentor others at work to be leaders?
We complain about this generation, but how many of us are mentoring leaders?
Where are all the leaders? We haven’t taken the time to make them!