Be a leader not an authority
There is a distinctive mark of leadership. It is the ability to let other people share the vision you have and to follow it with happiness and dedication. Leadership is not a title, let alone a position. Leadership is a lifestyle. Greatest leaders do not have great power but great charisma to energise people to move forward; to unleash the best in others for collective success. There are so many people in positions of power that are not leaders. And there are so many people that have no titles in many organisations but they are leaders.
When you look at staff turnover in most companies, the bottom line is not usually the companies. The main causative factor is the people in those companies. People do not leave companies; people leave people. When people walk out, they will tell you how others in some positions of influence were not able to appreciate their talent and were good at putting in controls that subdued them to the level of machines than humans without feelings that put in rules and regulations that they themselves cannot afford to follow and comply with.
Unfortunately, such people in positions of authority and power confuse that with leadership.
Leadership is about coaching people, giving people support and providing them the best that can fish out the best out of them. Life is simple and wonderful when you look at people not in terms of their positions but in terms of what they can achieve. Because when you realise their potential, you support their dreams and ideologies and they become the best of the best. If anything, there is a big possibility that the people you lead, through their talents and dedication, may eventually rise in other areas to lead you as well. That is where we need to understand that assuming positions of influence does not turn us into gods but servants of the people, the drivers of the dreams of people and the launch pad for the success of people. Would you work under your juniors if they happen to rise on the positions ladder high above you? If they treat you the way to treat them, would you continue working? If the answer is absolute no, then you are not a leader, you are just a controller. You may have to introspect and become a leader.
Leadership is not about sacrificing people for the sake of your own interest; showing that you remain the most infallible character in the organisation. That is a violation of an unwritten social contract. In leadership, it is how you deal with the hearts of people that matters. Would people cry for you when you resign? Would they feel like paradise has departed off them or they would cherish your departure?
Simon Sinek, the leadership guru, is a master at articulating leadership elements.
He says: “Leadership is a choice and not a rank. I know many people at the senior levels of organisations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities and we do what they say because they have authority over us but we would not follow them. And I know many people at the bottoms of organisations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders. And this is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.”
This is the biggest lesson in leadership. We call them leaders because they will choose to sacrifice for their people so that they are safe and protected and so their people may gain. And when we do, the natural response is that our people will sacrifice for us. They will give us their blood and sweat and tears to see that their leaders’ vision comes to life. And when we ask them why would you do that? Why would you give your blood and sweat and tears for that person? They will all say the same thing: because they would have done it for me.
At any point in your life, you are a leader – be it in your family, business, organisation or social gathering. Always look in the people around you in terms of what they can become with your support. Unfortunately, those that are not leaders but authorities are obsessed with evaluating the people’s past and circumstances instead of helping them to do better.
Siphiwe Moyo was right: “Do not evaluate nor discredit people based on their past because I am a lot sure there is a lot in your past that would have discredited you and disqualified you from being where you are now! Choose to look and live in the present. Do not dismiss anyone because of their past failures because yours will surely dismiss you too. You got a second chance, so kindly give it to others.”
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