Many of us are given our first responsibility for other people without any training at all. At best, someone has seen potential in us to manage people. At worst, they have just seen that we were very good at our current job! How many of us have worked for people who really do not like managing people? I met a man once who was not happy in the role and the organisation thought coaching would be a good idea. I asked why he had applied for the role and he said that his wife had thought t was a good idea....Needless to say, coaching was not appropriate.
In the book by John Maxwell, The 5 Levels of Leadership, Level 1 is when you are given a title or position It is a start that we are all grateful for. Some of us fall into the trap of thinking that the title makes us a leader and people should just do what we say. Here are the pros and cons of positional leadership.
1 It is a good place to begin - we are at the table
2 We are invested with some level of authority.
3 It is an invitation to grow.
'There should always be a relationship between receiving a leadership position and
fulfilling the requirements demanded by it...'
4 You can shape and define your leadership
Decide 'who am I?' 'what are my values?' 'Real leadership is about understanding yourself first'
Level 1 has 8 major downsides so try not to stay there for too long. Work to move to level 2 (Permission - people follow you because they want to).
1 Having a leadership position can be misleading.
You can walk into your first meetings and think that everything will be easy because you are the boss. People will respect you and listen to you. In fact, if they did not respect or listen to you before, this will not change. There may well be another person in the meeting who people see as the leader.
2 Leaders who rely on position often devalue people.
Positional leaders can place a high value on holding onto their position and getting to the next one. Sometimes they make themselves look better by keeping others down. They sometimes don't even like people- their 'subordinates' are an annoyance.
3 They feed on politics
If position is valued over the ability to influence people, then the environment becomes political - full of manoeuvring with the focus on control.
4 They place rights over responsibilities
Their position brings certain rights and privileges which they want people to acknowledge. Have you ever noticed that the very people who talk the most about their rights are the people trampling all over yours....?
I love the Margaret Thatcher quote here (just the quote..).
'Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't!'
5 Positional Leadership is often lonely
It does not have to be. Take people along with you!
6 Positional leaders get stranded
If they do not develop past level 1 quickly they become labelled and do not move any further.
7 Turnover is high
Have you noticed that some teams just cannot attract people to join them and people leave regularly. The saying is that people quit people, not companies. Now of course we all lose people: they should be the low performers not the people with potential.
8 Positional leaders receive people's least, not their best
In order to have a successful business, sport's team, student you have to bring out their best. Level 1 leaders breed clock watchers, 'just-enough' team members and the mentally absent! This is leadership that just gets by. It is not creative or innovative.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION AT LEVEL 1
1 Stop relying on position to push people
2 Trade entitlement for movement
Don't exercise your rights. Don't become possessive about your perks and never believe that you deserve your position. Leadership is not a right it is a privilege.
3 Leave your position and move towards your people.
'Let him that would move the world, first move himself!' Socrates
Remember, there is nothing wrong with having a leadership position. There is everything wrong with having a positional mindset.