How do organizations inspire workers undergoing so much change and competition in their lives? Many organizations are good at providing extrinsic rewards such as cash, promotions, and titles. Yet, contemporary organizations miss the key ingredient of good leadership.
In fact, most organizations won’t be successful without it. Managers can purchase better equipment or introduce a new process. However, the situation won’t improve until there is good leadership. What is leadership? There are a variety of leadership definitions. For my blog, leadership is defined as the ability to influence people to support a specific goal.
Corporations desire them. Militaries thrive on them. Churches praise them. Sadly, many people don’t understand the concept of good leadership. I will make a distinction between a great leader and great manager. In fact, leadership is not about being the boss or manipulating people for personal gain. Barbara Kellerman, author of Bad Leadership, defines bad leadership as “being unwilling or unable to control personal desires such as power instead of seeking for the common good.”
She place bad leaders in two categories: ineffective and unethical. An ineffective leader achieves the desired objectives but falls short of their intentions. Kellerman explains that leaders are often judged ineffective because their efforts fail due to their methods and the end results. However, this situation is different in regards to ethics when leaders decide to act in unmoral ways before their followers.
I’ve seen passionate managers; however, they weren’t great leaders. These managers were zealots for getting the task completed and checking boxes. Their influence was directly related to their position in the organization, not their personal influence. Rick Joyner, author of Leadership Management, notes the qualities that make a good leader would make poor managers in general.
What is the critical reason for this distinction? A manager must be detail-oriented to achieve success while a good leader must be concept-oriented. There are a few exceptions, however. Joyner explains that large organizations are usually bureaucratic and make it difficult for great leaders to rise to the top. In my organization, it is difficult to implement innovative processes due to a bureaucratic structure. Managers are rewarded for handling tasks, not inspiring people.
Organizations that want to have sustainable success must find ways to infuse good leadership into their organizations. All managers are not leaders. Organizations that do not understand this simple fact will leave themselves vulnerable to disaster. Some leaders are forced to start new organizations (for example, Steve Jobs of Apple). Countless leaders, especially change agents, are energized by their passion. I would say it is a critical component for effective organizations. If a manager wants a more “charged” organization, give them good leadership that inspires followers.
Why are organizations reluctant to deal with the issue of good leadership? What can be done to infuse contemporary organizations with good leaders?
© 2010 by Daryl D. Green