Leading, Actually Leading

If everyone in a leadership position who wasn’t actually leading were fired there would be a ton of open leadership positions. The sad reality of leadership is that most people in leadership positions merely pose as leaders. They don’t do the hard work that truly leading requires.

Think of it like this. If you’re going someplace in your car and someone asks to tag along because they have nothing better to do then you’re taking them for a ride. That’s like occupying a leadership position without really leading. People might be in the car with you but they have no commitment to any particular destination.

When you’re giving someone a ride to a place they need to go and they might not get there without you, that’s like actually leading. They have a destination in mind and you’re their guide to get them there.

A person in a leadership position who actually leads has the ability to change the world for the good.

Maybe only one person’s world but that is more than most leaders in name only will do.

It’s not a big surprise that most people in leadership positions don’t actually lead. Over 50% of people in leadership positions have never received a minute of formal leadership training. More than 80% have never participated in a leadership development program.

If you’re wondering about the difference between leadership training and leadership development I’d explain it this way. Leadership training focuses on the “as is.” It’s about focusing on past leadership experiences to maintain the status quo. Leadership development aims higher. It is about being a better leader than the leaders that came before.

Leaders who actually lead invest themselves in their people. They celebrate the success of their people as much as their own. They know that as a leader who actually leads their success in completely dependent upon the success of their people.

“Leaders” who merely occupy a leadership position think in terms of “spending time” to correct mistakes made by their people. Leaders who lead think in terms of “investing time” to grow their people to a level where mistakes are virtually eliminated.

Leaders who actually lead understand that budgets, buildings and other “things” are managed. They also understand that people must be led and they have learned the difference between managing and leading.

People who are managed will never reach their potential. That’s the biggest problem with having “leadership posers” in a leadership position. If they are responsible for a budding superstar and they try to manage them rather than lead them that bud will never bloom.

That makes it a huge challenge to grow an organization.

When leaders don’t lead then their people don’t grow, or they grow too slowly to have the impact on the organization that they could. Don’t let that happen to your people. If you’re in a position of leadership and your organization doesn’t offer you Leadership Training or Leadership Development then do what an Authentic Leader would do…seek it out on your own. It’s like an investment in yourself.

Lead yourself to success. Lead yourself to truly lead your people.

10 thoughts on “Leading, Actually Leading

    1. You can find tremendous Ted Talks on Leadership, pretty much any John Maxwell book is outstanding, and one often over looked book is “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Leadership is about influencing people and even though HTWFAIP was written in the 1930’s it is still the premiere book on human relations skills ever written.

  1. Good points there…

    Leaders should also have vision and a clear objective on what they, the team and the organisation wants to achieve. It will be bonus if they can also take management role during instances of a crisis. I have seen great leadership during certain crisis takes up managing and able to solve crisis effectively.

  2. A few pertinent thoughts on this subject… no particular order…

    Mission first, people ALWAYS. — USAF core principle

    You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington.”–Grace Hopper, Rear Admiral USNR, computer scientist

    A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: ‘We did it ourselves’.” –Lao-Tzu, Chinese philosopher

    Leadership is one of these great journeys into your own soul.” –Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric

    Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through the argument debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” — Colin Powell, General USA

    Great leaders – and great gardeners – resist the temptation to micromanage. They know that flowers cannot grow if you keep jerking them out of the ground to check the roots.” –Rodger Dean Duncan, author and business consultant

    Leadership, ultimately, is about service.” –Chris Westfall

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