Lead in Different Ways

I heard from many of you on last week’s blog post inspired by the legacy of Steve Jobs. At a lunch meeting with a peer, we asked ourselves: Why are there so few Steve Jobs and the like? There are now millions of leadership books, webinars, blogs, conferences, programs – all touting the recipe for such great leaders.

I asked some clients of mine how many leaders in their organization they would truly characterize as ‘transformative leaders’ and none could name more than five. Is it possible that we in the leadership development business, internally in an organization and externally as leadership development companies, are selling something that is not only unattainable for the overwhelming majority but also, perhaps not even necessary for them?

Does every leader have to be transformative? Why is the head of sales–who meets her numbers and exceeds them every quarter, but is terrible at grooming others and following procedures–not a valuable leader? Why should she be punished because she has no aspiration to be the next CEO, help younger employees, be innovative, adopt new programs… when she is doing her job better than any predecessor? Why punish her strength, by highlighting her weaknesses? We all know nothing happens until something is sold!

Perhaps we should stop thinking of leaders as individuals and instead as a group, a pack of individuals who collectively are transformative but individually might not be. And as such, leadership programs should change their content from being individualistic, unrealistic, and unnecessary to being more about the herd and structure of the leadership team. This in fact is how most organizations are presently running themselves. CEOs tend to hire complementary skills and personalities knowing well in advance that their collective prowess is worth more to the organization and its stakeholders.

This week, think about what you do very well and enjoy doing–and what you do not.  Could the latter be something that someone else might be better at and enjoy? Could you take something off their plate that they do not particulary enjoy doing but you do?  Start being cognizant of how you can be better as a pack, rather than as individuals.

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