April 5, 2012

The Elusive Future of Leadership

Anytime I think about the future, it reminds me of what Eckart Tolle says that the future will never arrive and the past is simply our recollection of what may or may not have happened.

The future of leadership can only be done through the lens of the observer yet each of us makes three fatal errors. We assume others think like us and share our sensibilities, we presume our agenda is pure and we presuppose others will remain constant and agreeable while we activate the necessary change.

Titles are Irrelevant

You don’t attain leadership from words on a business card. It doesn’t appear in the enterprise organizational chart like chosen royalty. And you aren’t given a special potion or pill on first day of that new promotion that makes you a leader.

Countless billions are spent each year on establishing markets, creating customer needs and growing revenue. Much of this investment is to attract external clients while very little time or money is spent on strengthening internal relationships. I call it internal customer service. And it is the most important ingredient to success.

Can I Help You?

We all enjoy great customer service yet we rarely experience it on a regular basis. That can also be said with regards to our relationships at work. Somehow there is an expectation that “they” will make it better or “the boss” is the person who ensures the work day is an enjoyable and purposeful experience.

Far too often a promotion is given to a top performer – the best sales person on the west coast becomes the new VP/Sales for California or the person who landed that new multi-million dollar account is named Director of Marketing – but leadership is about people, not client lists. Favouritism, nepotism and bad leadership are not endangered species but give serious thought to how you can make your situation better.

Invest Before Return

In order to lead, you must spend at least half of your time helping your people grow. Yes, 50% of your week must be with your people. That means actual time actually spent actually helping them. The pressure of bottom lines and shareholder values can distract us from our top priority which is making our people better so the entire team can deliver the very objectives the company wants in the first place.

When you ask people who are unhappy at work for the reason, it is rarely the services or products they are working on but rather it is often the people around them. You will hear words like “direct report” or “boss” which become four-letter words.

Whatever You Say

Respect and trust are not gained because someone signs your pay stub every two weeks. Admiration and belief do not appear simply because someone out ranks you.

The future of leadership starts today. Look at your team and the people who may be below or above you on that dreaded organizational chart. Take a leadership position by outlining specifically what you bring to the team and exactly what you need from them to do it even better.

The future of leadership is now 

Kneale Mann

image: istock  | originally on switchandshift
© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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