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We don't want managers, we want leaders! We hear and see that phrase or something similar to that a lot. In fact, so often it's now one of those throwaway lines that it's now just seen as spin, something that organisations say to sound good. But what if an organisation really meant it, what would that look like? What if, Leader was an actual title in an organisation that held real prestige and you had to work bloody hard to earn it?
A leader should be someone who has peoples respect, they should engender a sense of genuine motivation of hope, they should be coaches and be able to create a vision of what we should do, moreover they should move us emotionally to the point of wanting to be on that journey with them, just to be part of it. In short, a leader has followers, not because they are made to follow, but because they want to, because they see that by following this person and acting on their idea's then the organisation or the world, in fact, could be a better place.
Now all of that that may sound lofty, and it should, becoming a leader is no mean feat yet look around your organisation and how many people in your organisation have the title "leader" and as you spot them think where about in the hierarchy do they sit? Surely at the very top!? Nope, usually towards the bottom. It'll normally be something like this:
I'm sure the person in the team leader role is fantastic but are they a leader? Why is a Supervisor seem as a higher position? And if we don't want Managers but we want leaders then why is the Manager 2 rungs above our leader? What message does that send?
What if we made Leader a position to aspire too holding? What if you had to earn that title? For example, we have promoted Steve to Manager of his department, let's say it's engineering. He is really happy, he's worked for this for a while and now he gets to manage people. What he really wants though is to be a leader and that 's what the organisation what's as well so what if Steve's next position is Engineering Leader ? what is every position was a 2 stage process, first you become a manager or a supervisor and after a while you get promoted to a Leader? And the Promotion is based on not only the performance of your team but also the feedback of both your team and your peers based on the leadership qualities that they believe you have demonstrated over a sustained period, lets say at least a year? What would that do?
By making the title of Leader important in your organisation you set a clear message that actually you really do mean you want leaders, but you have to earn that. The title is too important to just give away, the benefits to the organisation of having a real leader in key positions is too valuable to just squander the title on anyone.
What would this do for the teams? Well for a start they would know that their managers and Leaders are different and which one they want to aspire towards. They would see that the behaviours, the values that the organisation talks about having are real and important because that's what the people with the title leader have to continually demonstrate.
What would it do for the organisation? Again it would certainly stack the decks with people who lived, breathed and demonstrated the values of your organisation and where able to provide real vision for their teams. I believe that it would lift the level of engagement within your organisation to levels never experienced before and with that higher engagement comes higher productivity, lower costs and better performance.
So, what would it do for your competition? Nothing good I'd suggest!
If you don't want managers but do want Leaders then the organisation has to make that mean something and be very very careful about who they award that title too, it'll say everything about your organisation you really want it to say. More over it provides additional development steps for your people and sends a very clear message to everyone, if you want to do well here then treat our Culture, our Values and Behaviours as critical to your success.
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