Many people develop their leadership qualities by observing leadership role models in the everyday … at work, at home, in their community. Unfortunately, leadership learning by osmosis – that subtle or gradual absorption or mingling of your approach and that of the role model you are observing or experiencing has a major flaw … they may be an awful role model, often because they are an accidental leader or manager.
This notion came into sharp focus at a recent seminar led by Sharon MacArthur of Red Handbag Consulting. She spoke eloquently about twelve things they didn’t tell you about leadership. It was a brilliant session, offering thought-provoking advice for anyone in a leadership role or contemplating one.
It got me thinking too … about leadership osmosis!
So, here are three things that observing any leader is unlikely to reveal.
1 It’s not about power, it’s about influence.
Leaders make the difference they make, in the main, by influencing others. They do this by being authentic which builds trust. They demonstrate care for their team. They also develop strong relationships that build excellent team spirit and resilience, which leads to greater ownership of team work and productivity.
2 Many leaders feel isolated.
Leaders are meant to be decisive, to take action and to lead by example. This requires an assessment of risk, often very quickly, and a commitment to action. People are looking to you, right now, and that can feel very exposed. This may feel worse if you have no-one else to call on for grounded advice or to act as a listening board, such as a mentor, a coach or a trusted friend … or even your own boss.
3 It’s about leading by example.
The approach of “Do as I say, and not as I do” remains alive and well, unfortunately. Leading by example is not about that! It is about aligning your personal values with corporate values and making a difference through that blend. If you never speak about values, how will you fully understand this and use it to great effect?
So next time you’re observing or experiencing your leader, ask yourself these questions:
How much do I know about this person’s leadership style?
How inclusive is our leader in managing and making tough decisions?
What are the most important values our team leader demonstrates?