A title or a position can be akin to the Emperor's Clothes. We can become blinded by our titles; blinded to our impact and effectiveness in our role. We can become unable to see what others around us can see. They can create a hazard to our ability to see ourselves and our motives clearly.
As John P. Kotter observed, management tends to work through formal hierarchy and leadership does not. “In a world that is continually changing, where additional leadership is necessary, more individuals outside one’s chain of command take on added importance, as do intangibles not on the organization chart, intangibles like corporate culture.” The spotlight can not be on titles.
A title can open doors, but our staying power will come from our ability to influence others. The real strength of a leader is the ability to elicit the strength of a group. Our accomplishments are restricted by our ability to lead—influence—others. Leadership is intentional influence. But how are we doing this—by force of power?
If leadership is about influence then the acid test of leadership must be the following question:
If you were stripped of your title – the politics of leadership, the power to punish and reward people – would they still follow you? Would you still get results from them?
It's good to ask your self this question periodically and adjust your approach accordingly.
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