Leading Blog






09.16.11

Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders

Too Many Bosses
Rajeev Peshawaria says ironically, even though leadership hasn’t changed, we have Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders. The difference between mere bosses and leaders is that “leaders find the energy to stay on and fight, and energize others around them, while nonleaders give up.”

“Superior leadership requires incredible amounts of emotional energy—the power to stay the course despite the most formidable of obstacles.” This energy comes from discovering your purpose and values.

One of the biggest reasons we have many poor leaders is that too many of them get into leadership for the wrong reasons—personal fame, fortune or glory—or are given positions based on competence alone. Peshawaria cautions that “accepting a leadership position without carefully considering what you really want for yourself and for the people around you is a very dangerous proposition.”

Real leadership is not easy or glamorous, but before you make the decision to lead, you should ask yourself six questions:
  1. What few things are most important to me?
  2. Do I want to (a) lead a simple life rich with everyday small pleasures, (b) achieve great success in an individual endeavor, (c) lead others toward a better future, or (d) do something entirely different with my life?
  3. What results do I want to bring about?
  4. How do I want people to experience me?
  5. What values will guide my behavior?
  6. What situations cause me to feel strong emotions?
Fundamentally, the question is, “in the interest of the greater good, are you willing to put self-interest on the back burner and focus more on others’ success? That is the true essence of leading others.” If so, the next question is “How can you be most effective?”

As a leader you need to focus on what he calls brains, bones, and nerves or setting direction, execution, and organizational culture. The trick of course is staying focused on these issues and not becoming distracted with all of the work you should be delegating.

To lead, says Peshawaria, “leaders must first uncover their own sources of leadership energy—their purpose and values—then enlist a few co-leaders and align their energy toward a common purpose. Finally, the leader and her co-workers must galvanize the energy of the rest of the organization by shaping and managing the brains, bones, and nerves of the enterprise.”

In his view then, leadership development programs should help participants to become more self-aware—who they are and what they want. Peshawaria notes IMD Switzerland professor George Kohlrieser’s thought that “when development focuses too much on presenting the ‘how-to’s,’ the result is not deep enough to change the inner life of a leader.” For the most part, most leaders know enough to lead, what is often lacking is the emotional intelligence to use it appropriately.

In light of the rapidly changing world, Peshawaria raises an important question: Does it still make sense to identify a few, anoint them as high potentials, and invest disproportionately in their development? As leaders, we are not good stewards of people if we don’t give everyone a “similar development diet” and let the “cream rise to the top on its own. Peshawaria asks, “What if the world changes in ways that require a totally different type of potential in five years compared with the benchmarks used to identify today’s high potentials? What about late bloomers—those who may not show early brilliance, but might become very valuable later on? And what about the negative impact on the morale of those not chosen as high potentials? It might be time to rethink the ‘best practice’ of identifying and developing a pool of high potentials.” Amen. Then too, we also might want to rethink what it means to be a leader and stop developing functional leaders and instead develop true leaders that can lead in changing contexts. That’s an entirely different focus.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:01 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Leadership Development



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