Is It Leadership?
Google ‘leadership’ and in six seconds 199,000,000 links appear on your screen. Lately, I have found myself asking the question-has the word leadership lost its meaning? Do we apply the label of leader too readily today?
Leader used to be the term applied to the few who consistently displayed competencies that motivated others to follow their vision. Gandhi and Mother Theresa still evoke appreciation from people who have only read or watched videos that told the stories that best modeled their leadership skills. It is a rare day that I don’t read an article in which someone has quoted Gandhi-what he said resonates with many even today.
So Where Did All This Leadership Come From?
Over the past decade many organizations began to send their managers and “high potential” employees to leadership training courses and many universities developed leadership specialties within various disciplines and some as a specialty in and of itself. High schools have leadership programs. Volunteer organizations recruit leaders.
Gradually the roles of CEO, vice-president, manager, director and supervisor were referred to as leadership teams.
A significant percentage of those 1999,000,000 articles advise us that there are 5, 10, 20, 30, 50…things leaders must do, competencies they must have, character traits they must exhibit; there are many articles that debate whether leadership is innate or can be developed. To my question as to whether a ‘bad or evil’ person should be referred to as a leader, one pundit firmly replied that “if a person has followers, they are a leader”; a stance that sits uneasily in my mind.
Identifying Leadership in the Hiring Process
Job advertisements sometimes include the requirement to “be able to prove demonstrated leadership skills”; candidates endeavour to convince interviewers that they should be hired because they have strong leadership skills. Identifying those leadership skills often proves to be difficult and the final assessment may be a little fuzzy at best.
What leadership skills are transferable to different situations? Does the leadership style that works at Apple also work at TD Canada Trust? Are managers really leaders?