Friday, June 3, 2011

June 3

I just shared this in a private group on LinkedIn:

From where do the ideas stem that leaders and leadership, by definition, are great and that managers and management, by definition, suck? Or that some few, blessed people somehow receive the "gift" of leadership? I agree with the stated notion [sic someone stated it in the LinkedIn group] that leaders think outside the box and innovate with new ideas. Those seem to present as a couple of skills required for the leadership toolbox/skill set. Ostensibly, leaders demonstrate their appropriate use of leadership when they employ those skills to answer situations that call for them. However, I can easily remember hearing a tremendous number of complaints, through the years, in both the military and civilian sectors, regarding people who thought outside the box and provided steps to innovation. Many of these leaders did this with the stated motivation: "developing those around them to build a better organization and create new ways of doing business." The problems, however, arose because: (a) the people on the receiving end neither required or desired "development;" (b) the organizations they served didn't need the level of full-scale "fixing" they tried to accomplish; or (c) the new ways of doing business they proposed proved more costly than their worth. Although these leaders employed the very skills that we agreed define or at least contribute to leadership (innovation and thinking outside the box), they did so inappropriately. They led, but in their leading, some of them tried to "reinvent the wheel."

I would also argue that the "lack of leadership" in this context, refers rather to an inappropriate lack concern for other people. This concept has appeared to manifest itself through egoism, self-aggrandizement, selfishness, us-them, etc. In this regard, throughout the management literature since the 1930s and 1940s, researchers and other authors have continuously presented information regarding the importance of behaving toward people by employing what McGregor coined "Theory Y." Yes, Theory Y originally related to management, not leadership. Therefore, I posit that this destructive focus on self could affect all people in their efforts to lead OR manage. Moreover, this also suggests that people don't understand "good" management, as it relates to human relations, any better than they understand how to employ good leadership.

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