Saturday, May 11, 2013

Leadership vs. Position

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome.   -Booker T. Washington


The managers at industry paradigm practice command-control through their 'positioned" authority power to achieve the management goal of efficiency, as talent are treated as resources or second priority while information is scarce. However, such leadership style is stale at the age of digital with the abundance of information, as business is hyper-connected and over-competitive than ever, innovation and effectiveness are key factors in business leadership to drive changes, so, what’s in-depth understanding about leadership vs. position?

1.Formal Leaders vs. ‘Informal’ Leaders 

Company-appointed leaders are also known as "formal leaders" because of the authority formally bestowed by the corporate system. People-chosen leaders are the "informal leaders" who are more respected and loved by their followers, despite the lack of formal appointments. It goes to show that respect cannot be demanded, and it remains a challenge for the formal leaders to earn it as they deserve it.

  • Leading in the Right Direction: People chosen leaders may be respected but may not necessarily lead in a correct direction. Company chosen leaders also have chances of not leading but have lesser chances of diverting from the company's vision. People may choose their leaders whom they love to follow, based on their personal experiences with that person. Such people who are capable of leading,  if noticed by management can help both the person & company to grow 
  • Preparation is Start Point to Leadership Effectiveness: Informal leaders often times don't have the formal "education" to assume the position. A lot of times, they don't assume at all and remain on the sidelines. The same is also true of formal leaders who are placed in leadership positions without preparation, and this happens lots of times. They are given bigger responsibilities and told to "sink or swim." That is why leadership effectiveness should start with preparation - for the leaders and the group they will soon lead. When this happens, the person and company grow together
        

2. Leadership Effectiveness

 The organization performance is limited by the leadership capabilities of the people in charge.    --John Maxwell

The true/effective leaders are exceptionally secure in "who they are" and what they are capable of and because of that - they are not in any way "threatened" by someone who may have greater skills in certain areas. So the effective leadership is fluid.

  • Effective leadership starts with a great and challenging vision. Other elements of good leadership are confidence, intuition, influence, critical thinking, learning agile, resilience and more. Developing your strengths and using them correctly is what makes a good leader. Fortunately, social influence at the age of digital is the new magic sauce of leadership abundance, the more authentic/effective leaders are at the top, the more harmonized the businesses or societies would become.  
  • Tactical performance at the operational level is very much different from strategic thinking at the higher strata. What works for one may not be as effective for the other. You had an "Officer in charge" but when you got to the bush - the "bush expert" took full control when you got to a cliff - leadership moved to the "cliff climbing expert," when you got to the bridge to be constructed, the Engineers took control. Then, Maxwell's law sets in - the organization's strength and capabilities become limited by the leader's weakness. The incapable leader becomes the chain's weak link 
  • The Power of Pull: The command and control manager worked in an industrial paradigm because the value was produced largely by the efficient use of physical assets, with people being secondary. In a modern "knowledge work" economy, people are a greater source of value production. This calls for a new model. Command and control managers can only obtain compliance from people. Leadership is what will draw out a person's best work contributions, including their creativity, initiative, influence,  collaboration, and other "taking extra mile" attitude & behaviors necessary in today's economy with the power of pull. 

3. Leaders & Positions 

Is Position making a leader or a leader making a position? Leadership is an influence, influence comes from progressive mind or act, the position does amplify one's voice, enforce one’s footprint; however, position can't make a manager a leader, leadership is a mindset, and authentic leadership does not come from position, but from one's consistent influence and continuous achievement.  
  • In the preparation phase, (management) should determine one's strength & capability to assume a higher responsibility: In many occasions, new supervisors are promoted simply from the length of tenure on the position or ingratiation, not ability. Promotion done this way may become counter-productive. . It’s also a waste of talent and resource. As people all have different strength and capacity, Just as water cannot rise higher than its source, one might not assume something beyond design! When companies learn and tailor talent well, they can transcend from good, to great. Further, management installs a "leadership development program" as a way of fulfilling the leadership pipeline. or succession planning and create a road-map to develop future leaders. The guidelines and criteria for selection need to be set clear 
  • True leaders are "exceptionally secure." Why do some leaders refuse to teach their people relevant skills to perform better? Because they are afraid that once they learn and become good, the talent might someday take their place. These leaders want to become indispensable in the process. What they fail to understand is that they also become "un-promotable" because nobody can take their place. True leaders are "exceptionally secure", they are comfortable in their own skin and are confident to pass on the baton for the team to move forward . . . a win-win orientation which is the mark of a true leader. 
  • Leaders, would you rather be liked or respected: Respect is to be earned. Being a leader is hard especially when you have members who are senior both in age and work experience. They might show up as the guru and technical experts in the team. Respect others as you want to be respected, lead with the heart, bring your team see the goal of the company and align to it. They would love to be engaged and surely will show respect to their leader.
Therefore, the leader makes positions, while position makes leader "formal" & well align his/her leadership cohesively with organization's vision, and the right talent at the right position will catalyze business growth and harmonize society.




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