There are countless books and texts out there that claim to ‘demystify’ and provide guidance to leaders.
Yet still we hear of stories around the water cooler, from our friends and colleagues, about leaders that do not lead and inspire; but rather use the mantle of leadership as a way to enforce a rigid structure that propagates and encourages a fear based structure rather than one that encourages innovation and experimentation.
The reality is that for one to truly lead others, they must be in control themselves. Now, I don’t mean that all good leaders are control ‘freaks’, but rather that they see an essential part of their role to control themselves in such a way that learning can occur. Yes, we want all our people and proteges to excel on every front. As leaders we want our Team to learn from our mistakes and to grow in ways we never thought possible.
And yet it remains. The miasma of fear wafting through the corridors of the business world. Will ‘so and so’ blow up today? Will they use fear and mental abuse as a weapon if they don’t like what I have to say? If I time my coffee break right, will I avoid running into him/her? If I don’t do this one thing right, will I be embarrassed in front of my peers?
When did it become ‘accepted’ for this type of ‘bullying’ to be OK in the workplace but not in our schools? In a school setting this type of ‘Leader’ would be considered a school yard bully. Would this change their behavior? No, not likely. However in a school setting we certainly would not be empowering and enabling this approach. Yet it persists in the workplace.
In ancient times there was a saying amongst royalty… “Don’t shoot (or hang, or… ) the messenger”. There was a grim practicality to that expression. If royalty treated all messengers poorly, they would stop coming. Does that mean everything is suddenly alright? No. It just means that the Leader no longer has knowledge of what is truly happening in the ‘real world. And thus another fable is validated as the Emperor struts about cloaked in ignorance, naked to the truths about him.
Yes, true Leadership requires letting loose some control. Yes, true Leadership requires a trust that may (at times) seem un-natural. But at the same time this trust – this act of belief – will inspire and lift our Teams to heights we never imagined possible…