Leadership, leader, be a leader, we’re looking for someone with leadership skills, these descriptions can go on and on. The word leadership is a buzz word, a tired phrase that’s still hanging on for dear life. Everybody wants to be a leader; recruiters are looking for leaders even in places where one would hardly expect to find this word.
Check into the local McDonalds or Taco Bell job website and you’ll find this phrase stacked on like an extra double patty melt. Today everybody wants to be a leader; leaders do stuff and make a lot of money apparently. Leaders do, leaders inspire, leaders deliver babies and while directing traffic, etc.
Bloated concept of leadership
Peter Drucker, a renowned management visionary noted that the bloated concept of leadership is the culprit responsible for the excesses in corporate America. He was of the mind that there are enough ‘leaders’ in business, that what business really needs are competent managers who manage. Geoffrey James, a columnist for the INC.com and the author of ‘Business without the Bullshit‘ opined that the typical business leader is like the leader of a marching band, he waves a stick while other people do the work. I couldn’t agree more.
Everybody wants and is looking for a leader. They’re just better. But what about the manager, how come no one wants to be a manager; is it because it actually involves work, being accountable to people and them being accountable to you. Managers get involved, managers get dirty, managers lean in to it.
Searching for the uber-leader
It seems that the charge to find and insert the uber-leader in every vacancy is creating an overhyped, leadership crazed and seeking horde of zealots who can’t get enough ‘leaderiness’. Well here’s the rub, managers are leaders, managers have to be leaders. The nuanced way we describe these 2 really does a disservice to both positions. An effective leader must have managerial skills and an effective manager must be able to lead; one requires the other.
Who is a leader?
Who is a leader? A leader without managerial qualities is a questionable salesman, a charismatic John in front of the work at hand. A leader deals in influencing relationships and such roles are definitely needed, though to the extent that we have attached so much puffery to that term says alot about what we as a society value, an image.
So then, that leaves the manager, the measuring stick ensuring that things get done. The manager, the behind the scenes overseer that ensures that all the cogs and gears are spinning, marching onwards toward that goal. With the crisis facing business and government today, perhaps the leader needs to be more a manager and incorporate more of the managerial mindset.