Who Leadership Isn’t About

Is there a bigger leadership lie than the one that says leadership is about the leader?

He has to be front and center. He has to be known. And he has to get the credit.

That’s what we’ve been told for so long. It’s what has destroyed the leadership position.

Leadership is about others

Leadership isn’t about YOU, the leader.

You may be casting the vision. You may be leading the charge. Or you may be the one giving direction.

All of these actions can make it seem like you’re the one leadership is about. You’d be drawing the wrong conclusion.

Leadership doesn’t revolve around the leader. Leadership should revolve around those being led.

Why We Think Leadership Is About The Leader

In recent history, leaders have become the face of the organization. They talk about what’s going on and they cast the vision.

The leader is the one who’s out in front. Cheering, I hope, others on.

You’re also the one helping others and giving them needed direction. You’re the one with the vision.

Who else would leadership be about?

But we’d be wrong in thinking leadership is about you or me. It’s not…

Who Leadership Is About

Let’s think for a minute. If leadership isn’t about the leader, who could leadership be about?

The best answer I’ve found is leadership is about the people.

Leadership is about the people you lead. Leadership is about the people you are creating for. And leadership is about those impacted by your business or organization.

It all boils down to others. Leadership is about others.

When we’re able to grasp this reality, things begin to change.

How To Make Leadership About Others

This is where things get tricky. With so much emphasis being on leaders, you can struggle with the shift of focus.

But, if we want to be great leaders, we’ve got to change where the spotlight shines.

To make leadership about others, we have to:

Honor the ones we lead: We’re leading people who are doing backbreaking, frustrating work. They’re building products, they’re dealing with customers, they’re putting up with us.

While you may have risen to the top, you can’t forget those who you are leading.

Praise them when they do well. Lift them up and thank them.

Take a backseat: I remember watching the downfall of Circuit City. I’d been working there for 3 years when things began to crumble.

Something had changed. What was it?

Leadership began to move to the forefront and take the credit for the hard work of the floor worker.

When budgets were met, the leadership was praised. When new products took off, leadership took the credit.

The question on the floor was always: Who in leadership had sold the product? Was there any leader demoing the product?

No, the sales team met budget and sold products. The leaders stood in the back, taking the praise.

Leaders need to take a backseat to the praise and give it to those who got things done.

Truly serve those we lead: The people you’re leading are human, just like you. They have struggles and battles they’re facing.

Look for ways you can serve them in those areas. Help them when you can.

Step out of the corner office and engage with your team. Show them you are there for them.

Question: Is your leadership self-serving or other-serving? Share your answer in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Love this! I saw a quote earlier this week, saying the best question leaders can ask is “what can I do to help you become more effective?” Our goal as leaders is to lead, and we want to lead the best, so we must do all we can to invest in our people, so they can be their best.

    Be well!