What Leadership Is Not

Yesterday was the first day of the next decade. I took the time to look through some of my posts in various categories from the last 10 years just to see what I was writing about in 2010! I’m sad to say this, but for all the talk about leadership it’s really a hit or miss because it begins with this: Great leaders don’t tell you what to do, they show you how it’s done.

It’s not news to you that many industries operate by the command and control style of leadership. Industries where the factory mindset still reigns is where you see the most miss in my opinion. What you see a lot in these places is “leaders” telling people what to do. They treat employees as if they were robots. This is what bad leadership looks like!

All you have to do is spend one day in the trenches with the people actually doing the work to experience what “leadership” isn’t. For me, true leadership is about modeling the way; walking the talk. Less talk, more action. In most places, it seems that the people who talk the most are the ones who are placed in leadership positions.

Let me be clear on a couple of things:

  • If your job entails telling people what to do, it doesn’t make you a leader.
  • If you demand something of others, then you better model it yourself.

Also, you’re a leader until others say you are; your position doesn’t make you one.

So here a few things to reflect on:

  • As a leader, ask yourself this question: Am I modeling the way or am I just ordering others to act as I’d like them to?
  • As an employee, ask yourself this question about your leader: Does this person model the way?

Check out the conversation between Jocko Willing an Brian Stann on what makes a good leaders versus a bad one:

Bottom line: Leadership isn’t about telling people what to do, it’s about showing the way first.