Too often, leadership is seen as the job of the chosen few and dictated by the org chart. Let’s move past this arcane concept and change our paradigm. Leadership isn’t for the few; leadership is for the masses. Here is why I know this to be true:
- Marine Corps boot camp taught me that when there are rank and authority that structures leadership, in the chaos and noise of a firefight, the Marine in the best position to see what needs to be done must take the initiative, especially when a higher ranking Marine goes down.
- To be a manager/leader, you don’t have to know how to do every job expertly in a process or project. Therefore task experts need to have leadership voices on what they need/want so they can perform competently and efficiently.
- Every employee has a job, and they should be the expert at that task. When execution and results are critical, stresses are high; everyone needs to lead with their expertise.
- Teams ideally are made up of subject-matter experts. If these experts have no leadership voice in the project or process, the effort will be weak or fail.
- Leadership is a learned skill that results from practice and experience. If a company isn’t developing new leaders, the organization will eventually weaken. Expert execution comes from listening to the experts. This type of leadership model has been called “leadership from your chair.” It acknowledges that leadership is the strongest and most valuable when all experts, regardless of where they fit in the organization chart, have a voice and purpose.
Defining and understanding your company’s leadership culture are the necessary steps to creating a consistent leadership culture.