There are heaps of books on leadership. Check for definitions of leadership and you can spend the next few hours reading up tons of material. Since people look up to their supervisors and often behave as they do-  let me put down what I believe isn’t leadership. Many young people beginning their careers unconsciously model themselves on their supervisors. If they have enlightened leaders as supervisors- that’s great and they will gain from that experience. But what if they don’t? Not everyone is that fortunate.

In some organisations, the lack of formal inputs compel new comers to get by only through learning by the seat of the pants. Just blindly following what they see others- particularly their bosses-do. I have often seen youngsters walk like the boss and talk like the boss. Indeed often mimicking their very mannerisms, expressions and favorite phrases.

I like the number “7” and find that I already have 25 posts in my series revolving around tips for career development beginning with “7”. So here’s one more in that list. Young persons finding their feet for the first time in an organisation will do well to stay away from these behaviors. Here is “7 Things Leadership Isn’t About”.

Leadership isn’t about:

  1. Pulling rank to get things done: People admire you for your competence and ability to provide guidance, solutions and remove obstacles in their path to achieve tasks. They do not respect those who gets things only by virtue of the organisational position they hold. They may fear them but that’s something else.
  2. Playing favorites: In an increasingly diverse workforce, playing favorites is the last thing a leader does. Team members get confused when their supervisors shower attention one moment and turn away when the job is done. It gives rise to an almost “flavor of the month” kind of leadership, which leave people confused and demotivated.
  3. Hogging credit and fixing blame: The easiest thing to do is to claim credit for the team’s work and blame them when things go wrong.  People resent such behavior and will tolerate it only as long as they have no other choice.
  4. Having ambiguous standards: Not having clear performance expectations and ambiguous standards leaves people confused. They don’t know what is expected of them nor how their performance will be measured.
  5. Leaving performance un-tracked: Under the guise of giving people a free hand or allowing them to work independently, some do not track progress nor provide feedback to the team. Without feedback, the team stumbles along and often gets to hear all that went wrong at the end of the year- which in any case is too late to make any meaningful corrections.
  6. Walking away from the Talk: For me this is the opposite of “Walking the Talk”. When supervisors say something is important and do just the opposite it leaves the troops confused and baffled. Having a vision statement which sounds grand but is not implemented in practice and having guidelines for workforce development and managing diversity and not abiding by them are but two examples of what I mean.
  7. Winning at any cost: Should you go all out to win? Of course you should, but leadership is not about winning at any cost. Getting overly aggressive, losing sight of ethics and compromising on your own standards of integrity to reach your goals at any cost is at best a short term measure.

If you think about it, perhaps all these 7 points can get you success- but only in the short term. For long term success, leaders need to have a style based on values which can be transmitted to those they lead – through their very actions.

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This is Post No: 294 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.