When it comes to leadership, one of the first questions I often hear is, "What do leaders do?" Leadership is more than a series of phrases or a prescribed set of routine actions. Here is a snippet of what I recently shared with an audience of HR and EEO professionals about leadership and influence.
The best leaders know influence matters, not authority. Leadership is much more than a title. A title does not equal influence and title is most definitely not power.
"Being powerful is like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t." Margaret Thatcher
Think about these two titles: parent and teen. Now think about the parent wanting the teen to accomplish a task that the teem does not want to do. How quickly we hear, "Because I am the parent that's why!" How well does that work?
It doesn’t work any better in the workplace. How many times do employees or managers jump because you say to? Never!
Titles do not get us far but leadership and influence do. Consider this:
- Nothing human resources related happens in your organization without you being involved.
- You ask for resources to automate your administrative process and, when all others are brushed off, IT engages you in a discussion.
- You are conducting benchmark surveys and when you reach out to a network of people that you’ve established, they respond.
- You add data analytic capabilities to your staff because you have access to big data that will enhance managers' decisions.
This is leadership. This is influence. This is what leaders do.
Here is an excerpt from a post on influence and leadership that captures what leaders "do" better than anything I've come across recently:
"Leaders lead by mobilizing people around a compelling vision of the future, by inspiring them to follow in the leader's footsteps. They show people what's possible and motivate them to make those possibilities real. They energize and focus people in ways that fulfill their dreams, give them a sense of purpose, and leave them with a profound sense of accomplishment when the work is done. Leaders lead by modeling ways of thinking or acting and by encouraging new ways of looking at situations, and by so doing they give people the words and the courage to make those new ways their own."
This is what leaders do and what you are being called to be. Are you up for the challenge?