Archive for March, 2014

“Everyone a Leader?” Yes…. And NO!


NUGGET : Let’s stop pretending that everyone is a leader in the same way. When there are leadership failures the buck must ultimately stop at the feet of people with institutional power, for they wear the decision mantle and authority of the larger organization or institution.

Everyone IS a leader when he or she brings something new to the table, but everyone is NOT an institutional manager/leader. Institutional leaders have power beyond their personal role – to make decisions and channel resources for the institution or a part of it. The “everybody a leader” rhetoric, while positive in many ways, takes formal leaders off the hook for this additional power and responsibility.

Designated leaders are like the nervous system in the body. They have a responsibility to connect and integrate, to align, direct and intervene for the whole.

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This does not mean that other sub-systems in the organization (for example, the financial or the sales or the research systems) don’t think and integrate – or that individual people don’t make decisions or take courageous actions. Nor does it mean that the leader must use autocratic methods to accomplish these ends. It does mean that success requires competent formal leaders who can wisely perform the leadership/management function. Everyone is NOT a leader in this sense.

Furthermore, because of this additional FORMAL authority, institutional leaders have an additional responsibility. Their power position can hook the people around them. People may be reluctant to tell the truth or admit failures – and they may resist the leader’s direction. Thus formal leaders require a lot of awareness and some skills in detecting and using power dynamics.

Leaders who have institutional authority are, therefore, leaders like everyone else, but they also hold the power of a leadership role. They must lead both from their personal power and from the power of their role.

NUGGET : Let’s stop pretending that everyone is a leader in the same way. When there are leadership failures the buck must ultimately stop at the feet of people with institutional power, for they wear the decision mantle and authority of the larger organization or institution.

Please click below to leave a comment, and check out The Shadow Side of Power: Lessons for Leaders