People seem to have a few myths about leadership. Here are some learnings from the great minds of management. I hope these can bring you a new perspective on leadership.
1. Leadership is action rather than position or title
People think leadership is the leader’s business, and only a leader has leadership. Although a leader’s legitimate power helps leverage leadership, it’s wrong, leader ≠ leadership. Leadership is not the title or position you have. It’s the ability to mobilise people to solve a problem. As long as someone takes action to do so, then we can say this person has leadership.
2. Leadership is solving challenging problems rather than technical problems
Leadership and management, they seem to be the same, but they are different. Though we can say leading a team and managing a team, we can only say leading a revolution, not managing a revolution. According to John Kotter, the fundamental difference between leadership and management is: leadership is focused on creating change through a vision, whereas management is focused on creating order through process.
There are two types of problems: technical problems and challenging problems. Technical problems can be solved by the existing process, which we already know how to do. Challenging problems can only be solved by creating change, which we don’t have the experience. As leadership is creating change and management is creating order, for technical problems, we rely on management, while for challenging problems, we rely on leadership.
3. Leadership is making decisions on the system rather than the event
Leadership is the ability to make decisions, but rather than focusing on a single event and single solution, it’s focused on the system and general solution. It requires system thinking, be able to understand the whole, the parts, the relationships and identify the fundamental reasons cause the problem.
4. Leadership is not only creating a solution but also mobilising people
The challenge of leadership is not only to find the problem and create the solution but also to mobilise people throughout the whole journey.
There are two main reasons why you need to mobilise people: 1. Leadership is solving a challenging problem, which needs people to provide information and ideate the solution. 2. The solution is required people to execute, to get the desired outcome, it requires them to think and act proactively.
5. Leadership is also transformational relationship rather than only transactional relationship
If an organisation is a ship, what is a leader’s role? You might say the captain or the helmsman, but the better answer is the designer. Because a leader is responsible for designing the objective, work process, and learning process. Learning is very important for the organisation to solve a challenging problem.
There are two relationships between the leader and followers: 1. Transactional relationship. It’s a transaction to achieve the objectives of both sides. 2. Transformational relationship. It’s focused on not only delivering the objectives but also creating meaningful changes that result in an upgrade for both sides. Leadership should be focused on building not only transactional relationship but also transformational relationship.