A collective leadership misperception is that it happens to you as a result of a promotion. Sadly, many executives foster this climate of “ordained leadership” by acting as though they, as executives, are smarter than the masses and are therefore more worthy of making a decision. This culture stifles individual contribution, engagement, job satisfaction, and organizational improvement.
A brilliant executive coach and governance and leadership consultant, Les Wallace, with Signature Resources, often refer to a concept of leading from your chair. Leading from your chair requires us to look at leadership with two fresh perspectives.
The first way to view leadership is understanding that regardless of what role you have in an organization, you have a responsibility to be a leader with your peers, your bosses, and those with whom you collaborate. This form of leadership acknowledges three essential truths:
1. You are an expert at the job you are performing
2. You must recommend and implement improvements to your job
3. Your voice needs to be heard as decisions are being formed that impact your expertise
Second, we’ve heard that we should dress for the position we want, not the job we have. This statement is a metaphor for leadership to view leadership through the eyes of our boss. Attaining an influential voice is done by establishing your leadership presence; by setting the stage of being perceived as a leader by your peers and those with whom you collaborate. You must demonstrate that you are a lifelong habit of learning and practicing the critical leadership skills of listening for understanding, questioning for mutual discovery, nurturing trust, and establishing leadership as one of your brand attributes.
In navigating the corporate hierarchy, leadership is often a void that must be filled at all tiers. Developing and demonstrating leadership skills will help differentiate you among your peers, but being a leader requires courage and tact; it is a journey full of personal and professional rewards.