Leadership: It is not about you! Get over it.

LeadershipLeadership is not just a title; and a leadership title, does not necessarily make someone a leader. There are many unsung people in every organisation who exercise the attributes of a leader everyday without the recognition of title. These are the ones who take ownership for their own area of the organisation. They do the best they can to fulfill the cause or vision.  They are often un-thanked, forgotten, and overlooked.

What a leader needs to remember is that they are not the most important person in the organisation. A great leader is more concerned with the vision and cause of the organisation than their own position.

A great leader does not want or need people to think like them, but rather to be able to freely think for themselves. The Japanese poet/philosopher, Matsuo Bashō 1644–1694 says, “Do not seek to follow the footsteps of men of old.  Seek what they sought!”

This is a great lesson that is often overlooked. Do not wish to be like the leader, rather seek the vision that they have and own it for yourself. The difficulty begins where there exists an egocentric leader in charge. The egocentric leader will see the up-and-coming leader as a threat to their own position and will do all they can to alienate and disempower the new leader.

Failure to train, empower, and trust up-and-coming leaders within the organisation will ultimately lead to the failure of it to set or achieve long term societal changing goals. By not establishing clear succession plans the organisation may be doomed to disappear.

The focus of any organisation is to fulfill the vision that has been set. The role of the leader is to see that it happens. When the leader forgets about the cause to focus on the position then it is like a ship out of control heading for danger.

There are risks in leadership, tough decisions need to be made at times and someone will be accountable for them. For the leader to be so engrossed in their own stature and direction that they forget to listen to and trust subordinates is a disaster waiting to happen.

Leadership requires trust in a team of people, people who are like-purposed not like-minded. For there to be great decisions made, great debate must take place. There should be differences of opinions, clashes of wills, and challenges faced.

An egocentric leader will surround themselves with like-minded people, dare I say “yes men”, who will just blindly follow the leader wherever they go without questioning them. This is a highly dangerous situation and I would suggest if you find yourself in that situation look for the exits now.

If you are the leader, take some time out over the next few days to question yourself. Ask yourself “why did I accept this role?” “How important is the vision to me now?” “Is there someone else who could take over from me if I wasn’t around?” Now take action on your answers.

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  1. Great leader always leads the team selflessly and acheive the goal. He takes the entire team alongwith him,set clear target,takes positive aspects of the team and try to eliminate the negative aspects of the team.

  2. Kelly Morris Earegood says:

    Bingo! Vision. True leaders know that its not about them. I refer back to the Purpose Driven Life book by Rick Warren. First sentence in the book…"It's not about you."

  3. Thanks Todd, It has been a good month with many interesting articles posted.

    Thanks for organizing the event.

    • I apology being late jiionng the 3rd JTI follow up meeting yesterday. Do we have any experience/comment sharing about if JTI material is suitable (easy or difficult) to lead a group whose members are NOT JTI trained (nor MER alumni)?

  4. There are so many nuggets of wisdom contained in this article. It could be the basis for about 20 more articles. Great insight. Thank you Paul for your insight.

  5. Paul: totally agree, as an experienced senior leader, now retired and working as a consultant I can support this view completely. Good leaders are like good husbands, they come behind the kids the dog and the goldfish. Those leaders, usually the very ambitious ones, that think it is all about them never achieve in the long term. The problem is, if they are good at self publicity, they often get to senior positions before they are found out. When I speak about leadership I tell people to look after their people first and themselves second, this investment pays off when things go wrong, as they frequently do. Nice blog, I hope people think about it and their attitude towards their people.

  6. Great leaders celebrate the successes of their team members, so those people are not “un-thanked, forgotten, and overlooked.” They show every team member that he or she is important to the organization’s success.

    • I agree, great leaders do celebrate and encourage team members, but unfortunately not all leaders are great leaders. How I wish they were, just imagine what could be achieved.