Which Makes Which?

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“It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position.”

–     Stanley Huffty, as quoted by John C. Maxwell in “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership…”

Mark was holding his newborn daughter, Abbie.  Her mother was watching them, taking in the instant bond between Daddy and Daughter.  Two days later, Mark was holding Abbie again, buckling her car seat in and driving very safely home.  Waving from the hospital carport were the birth ward nurses and interns, who, by all accounts had done a splendid job of managing Mark and his wife through the birth of their child.

As they settled into their home, Mark listened as his wife said, “What did you think of the team at the hospital?” she asked.

Mark replied, “I think they should all be arrested and charged with child neglect!”

Abbie’s mom, perhaps with some hormonal hangover from the birth 48-hours previous, lit into him.  “Mark!  How could you say that?  They were amazing.  They told us what to expect and treated us like we were having the baby at the Four Seasons!  Why, on earth, would you say they should be charged with child neglect?” she finished.

“It’s easy,” Mark replied, calmly, still holding his new daughter.  “They sent this poor, defenseless child home with us and we have no idea what we’re doing!”

Ok, Heston, this is one of those days when we’re dying to say, “What’s the point.”

Just as the birth of a child makes us a mother or a father, it doesn’t make us a parent, a promotion for manager to director doesn’t make us a leader.

The point is leading is what makes us a leader.

Ever work for a title that had no influence?  Ever work for someone who was so giddy to be the boss, they forgot about the work that had to be done for the boss to look remotely in charge. They wanted to “boss” not “lead.”  Even at senior levels, even if we’re the CEO — the best way to determine if we’re leading is how many people are clamoring to get behind us.  I know a place where the “leaders” could walk alone for days, “leading.”  And then, there’s the company wherein 100 or so of the team uses the term “LOL” in many of their communications.  The “boss” probably thinks they’re validating his awesome-boss-ness!  Except “LOL” has become shorthand for “lack-of-leadership!”

Your title means bupkus to anyone that matters.  Your leadership or lack thereof is all that matters to them.  Some ways to gut-check where you fall on the manager – leader spectrum:

Is every meeting you have in “your” office or “your” conference-room?  Position over influence, a yellow-light on a leader’s report card.  You are, at best, being a manager.  Get out of your desk.  Use the calendar to force it, take a “walk-about” get out of the detachedness of an Executive Suite and go build connections with the people doing the work.  Go see them on their field.  Go see them doing what they do, and remind them of how it connects to that thing you’re responsible for doing. Help them feel what they do in the grander context of the outcome.

Lead them to a vision that makes the company’s vision better.

Lead.

So, just lead, huh?

No, not exactly.  That’s a good set up for Friday’s Daily Difference.  With Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to come in between…

 

 

 


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