Whether in the world of work, politics or sport, the term “leadership” has become a status symbol.
Everybody wants to be known as a leader, regardless of whether they have the qualities and skills to be a leader, or whether they are in a leadership position or not.
These misplaced expectations have resulted in people ending up in leadership positions who have not the faintest idea of what leaders are supposed to do. Once they are placed in a leadership position, therefore, their energies and efforts are directed at keeping the position – at all costs.
Leadership then becomes synonymous with “power” and no-one wants to lose power once they’ve acquired it. We should then be referring to such people as people in positions of power and not in positions of leadership.
To hang onto their power, they will try to please whoever it is they think will help keep them in power. They will spend days, weeks and months plotting against those they perceive to be threats to their power. They will avoid making any decisions that are not central to their efforts to retain power.
And while all of this is happening, mostly behind the scenes, the people, companies, divisions or departments they should be leading wait for direction and guidance to be provided, to no avail. Leaders who are only in it for the power will never be able to overcome their desire and drive to serve themselves first.
With so many leaders not doing what they should be doing, we’ve almost forgotten what good leaders are expected to do, so here are three reminders of what good leaders do …
One of the first things we could expect a good leader to do is inspire others with a compelling vision of a better future, whether it be for a country, a community or a company. After all, if a leader can’t lead us somewhere better than where we are right now, what’s the point of having them?
Not only should leaders be able to articulate a vision of a better future, but they should also be able to inspire people to embrace a worthy cause. A cause is what energises people to take action to help achieve that better future. Don’t underestimate the power of a cause. Without a cause, you get only reluctant effort, but people will die for a cause they believe in.
As a leader, do you inspire people with a vision of the future and with a cause?
A true leader gets things done through other people. That’s the nature of leadership. It’s not about the proverbial one-man-band. A leader who is unable to collaborate will struggle to achieve anything of significance. Good leaders can collaborate across disciplines, cultures, generations and agendas in order to get things done.
Their collaboration will result in a common purpose, a united effort and a shared result. It will involve not only talking but listening, reflecting and responding appropriately. Collaboration is about involving and including people in the master plan, about inclusivity rather than exclusivity.
As a leader, do you make use of collaboration?
Believe it or not, one of the key things leaders are required to do is innovate. Innovating refers to introducing something new or doing something in a new way. One of the ways leaders take people to a better reality, is through introducing something new or doing things in new ways to achieve different results.
That doesn’t mean that leaders have to come up with all the new ideas themselves. It does however mean that they give those who can come up with new ideas the freedom and support to do so.
As a leader do you innovate?
There are many other things we could expect from leaders but if they just managed to get these three things right, imagine what the world would look like …
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.