Monday, October 13, 2014

Leadership as a Responsibility

"He's a manager, but not a leader."
"He's both."
"You haven't seen the way he leads. He is a disaster."
"But that simply means he is a poor leader. It does not remove the fact that he is a leader."
"How so?"
"Rather than treating 'leader' as a job title, we need to remember that many positions carry leadership and managerial responsibilities, some far more than others. Notice how we use shortcuts to convey a particular meaning. We say that someone did 'quality work' when we really mean the person did high quality work. That ignores the fact that on other occasions we may say that work is of poor quality. 'Environment' is another word that is subject to short-cuts.Using a narrow definition of leader can cause us to miss things."
"So your point is that we should focus on how a person performs leadership responsibilities?"
"Yes. That gets us out of the either-or division and permits us to explore the leadership responsibilities which are done well and the ones which need improvement."
"Can an entry-level gardener or clerk have leadership responsibilities?"
"Absolutely. There can be times when someone has to make a command decision and no one else is available. While it is unlikely that they would be given the authority to sign contracts on behalf of the organization, that still leaves a lot of territory in which they can make decisions, particularly in the area of customer service. Think of the well-respected hotels which give low-ranking employees the authority to spend up to a fairly high amount in order to please a customer. They don't want people saying, 'That's not my table.'' or 'I'll have to track down a supervisor.'"
"And also consider the advantages that can come from frequent discussions of good and poor leadership qualities, regardless of the job title. We are able to tap into more talent and avoid a caste system which makes people feel small. We let people know that on certain occasions they are expected to take initiative and to lead."
"Don't you risk losing power?"
"Quite the contrary. The power and effectiveness of the organization will grow. So will the morale of the employees."

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