We are all leaders in some way. Sometimes we are drawn to leadership early in life, as I was. For me, leadership was a calling. Other times you are tapped on the shoulder for future leadership opportunities by how you show up on the job. As an adult with job responsibilities, do you strive for the authority and responsibility that comes with leadership?
It is one thing to be called into leadership and a very different thing to show up as “leader.” In business today, leadership is being given much needed attention. An “Emerging Leader” often becomes so because he or she is called into the leadership role by demonstrating informal leadership skills within their area of responsibility as an individual contributor. Or, perhaps the first employee of a start-up by default becomes a manager as additional staff are needed, and they know more about the company’s mission, vision, goals than the new people.
Often emerging leaders are asked to take on leading people who yesterday were their peers. Or they may be asked to do the job AND lead others who do the job too. Doing a task and leading people are very distinct accountabilities! For someone to become a leader, they need to distinguish what that means and what it takes, which are people skills, not accountabilities. Leadership is something granted by the person being led, not a title per se.
Many larger, mature organizations —companies of ~ 500 or more employees — have formal emerging leader programs that address the need for leadership training. Rarely do smaller or fast-growing companies have the capability to properly train their budding future leaders, or even their current ones who have been promoted from individual contributor to leader without sufficient training. This transition can be very painful for all parties concerned without support! Yet the need is every bit as real, if not greater, because, in smaller organizations, every mistake in hiring and/or promoting has a proportionately greater impact on the organization. The negative financial impact of not achieving the company goals is owned and shared by a much smaller number of people.
Think of a ship departing on a long journey. First, you want the crew who will take the ship safely to another shore to be seaworthy, meaning they know the route and they are a well-synchronized team capable of getting to their destination. This means they will be stable and competent decision makers in rough waters. Appropriate values are deeply held and honored. Clarity is present. Passengers (customers outside this analogy) are confident that their safety, their comfort, their satisfaction are priorities and that the leaders have systems, processes, training, and focused commitment to consistently ensure that outcome.
If this subject matter relates to you, learn more by attending the webclass provided by Pamela on August 18th.