Sharing the way
Describing a “what is Leadership?” can prove a challenge for a great many organisations. Unfortunately nowadays, leaders are expected to lead without ever being afforded the time to investigate what it means to lead.
Is leadership a about the result? Is it more to do with the process? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It is a complex subject matter and one in which we all have a personal take.
Looking at history books can sometimes only add to our confusion, while there are similarities, there are often stark contrast in how the great leaders did their thing. While there is of course merit in the exercise, we sometimes forget to also look forward and envisage how the role of leading may evolve.
The collaborative approach is now the name of the game for a great many businesses. I have sometimes heard collaboration downtrodden by those who perceive it to be fashionable or populist, but with respects this is kind of just missing the point. Real collaboration has significant advantages that can not to be sniffed at. Smart people along with smart businesses are embracing collaboration now.
So my point is this, why then should leadership be any different in this regard.
Collaborative leadership is a concept I like, hence the principles behind “shared leadership” are ones which appeal to me greatly.
Let’s be clear here, two traits that a leader must possess to operate shared leadership are courage and confidence – the courage to trust that people can do the job, and the confidence to not want to own leadership exclusively. Insecure leaders on the other hand, are much more likely to instead choose to surround themselves with yes men – who will provide reassurance over challenge.
The role of the leader changes in a shared leadership situation. The unburdening of his or her “William Wallace” allows for a new categorisation of responsibility. It can be summed up in difficult language or indeed, it can be summed up plainly. My tastes have always been for the less exotic.
• Find the right people
• Trust the right people
• Support the right people
• Let the right people get on with it.
• Manage the Interactions between the right people
• On occasion allow the right people to make mistakes
The collaborative leader is a strategist and manager of people but as importantly he or she is also a teacher and indeed sometimes even a parent. I repeated “right people” in my summing up; this is because one significant advantage I feel a collaborative leader brings is in their ability to recognise the right people. This is then coupled with an ability to develop these same people.
Crucially if you truly understand that it is the people that are the organisation’s greatest resource, you should now begin to realise how fundamentally important this ability is in terms of success.
So then, if you are a leader, ask yourself the question do I need to own leadership? If the answer is yes, perhaps you may be in the wrong job??