News > Leadership Isn’t What It Used to Be
Thank you, Mr. Shakespeare. “To be or not to be that is the question,” the first line in Hamlet, truly is a great question, especially as it applies to leadership. As leaders, do we want to be relevant or not?
Every leader is now challenged to develop new leadership skills. To be relevant today means leaders must empty the bag of tricks and refill it with new stuff. Why do I say that?
Because the pandemic, gun violence, unequal protection under the law for all people of color, and a variety of biopsychosocial issues have strained even the most talented and experienced leaders and required the development of new thought patterns and skill sets.
Recently, Dasher’s president, Tracey Glenn, and I were traversing through the agenda of our weekly “Same Page” meeting and one of the discussion items was leadership development. Tracey pointed out aptly that we are navigating through Zoom, Teams, Skype, Facetime, in person, work at home, vaccinated, not intending to get vaccinated, employee retention, supply chain management, mask or no mask, centralized and distributed work models, and a few more hurdles based on specific industries.
We can ask ten people for their definition of leadership, and we will get at least a dozen definitions. John Maxwell, the famous leadership guru and author of numerous books on the subject, defines leadership using just this one word. His definition of leadership is “influence.”
One of my favorite definitions of leadership comes from John Quincy Adams, our nation’s 6th president: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, become more, you are a leader.” This approach to defining leadership appeals to me because the measurable proof that someone is a good leader comes from the benefits experienced by those who are following.
As we discussed the pressure on leaders today, Tracey said “regardless of how you define it, a good leader starts from a base of selflessness, not from a position of authority in a hierarchy.
Someone in a position of authority is often incorrectly identified as a leader.”
Titles do not connote leadership skills. We have all met people who have a position that gives them authority, but they are not leaders. Authority stems from the position a person holds and the responsibilities assigned to that position.
Being an authority is a role that we play in our personal and professional lives. We have authority over our pets and our administrative responsibilities. We can be a subject matter expert (SME) and be viewed as an authority over our area of expertise. Having authority makes it “your call” and your responsibility for what happens.
There is no such thang as “having leadership.” That is because leadership stems from the person and their relationships with other people. Leadership is a place in the hearts and minds of others that must be earned. Having authority is not required nor is it even a component of leadership. It is a skill that you can develop, like fly fishing or cross stitching.
Leadership is the learned ability to inspire the people around you to take actions that are in their best interests. Organizational leadership is inspiring people in the organization to make decisions that are in their best interest and in the best interest of the organization.
Whether a person is a leader is determined by interactions between people. It is a joint venture. In some situations, a person can be a leader and in others the same person may not be viewed as a leader.
Attempting to force others to share a vision through peer pressure and threats to their job security is a dead-end road. Leaders can help colleagues to understand why they can support the company’s vision and goals, but that is done with understanding and acceptance of the individual as an individual.
We think of this as having a purpose that involves being of service to others. Our business model is fully aligned with our shared values. We know and expect that everyone at Dasher is interested in a variety or causes that align with our values and founding principles.
A key facet of leadership is caring about something, wanting to change whatever it is for the better and for the common good. At Dasher, we are all dedicated to helping people live happy healthy lives. Our founding principles are that all humans are of equal value and that everyone deserves to be heard and respected.
Leaders must incorporate the values of the people they are leading into their actions and decisions. That is why everyone at Dasher can be a leader because all our actions and decisions are based off a shared set of values and beliefs. Though we do not agree all the time, we can have creative and constructive conflict because we all play the game using the same rules.
We share a common language that doesn’t always need to be spoken. People around us may not always listen to what we say, but they are excellent at imitating what we do. We know that our teammates model the behavior they see is rewarded in our Dasher culture. As leaders, we model the behaviors that are consistent with our values.