Friday, April 13, 2012

The Leadership Conundrum

Question:
What do we do with leaders who assume people will follow them and the people who used to follow them but who now question authority and are lead by their own passions and talents instead?

Leadership training is a self focused endeavour. It shows the participant how to manage their time and their behaviour to make goals and act with integrity. Rarely does leadership training describe how to manage others. Instead it is assumed that the participant will become so successful that others will look up to them and their superior position of authority.

Leadership assumes people will want to follow. Follow directions, follow orders, follow mandates and missions. But for the last 20 years or so we've been teaching our children the value of thinking critically. This often leads a person to question the rules and question the authority. They want to know "why?" Why are we doing this? Why am I doing this? It's a question of passion. People don't do something just because it's required or mandatory anymore. They are driven and motivated by passion and meaning. They want to know if what they're doing has meaning and more importantly, if they do that, will it bring meaning to their lives?

We've also taught the recent generation of graduates that they are uniquely talented. That they have special skills that must be nurtured and utilized. The new generation doesn't automatically respect and look up to the leader because they believe the leader is no more talented than them. They certainly don't look to the leader to tell them how to apply their own special talents and skills. They feel confident that they know how to do what they're doing. They are lead by talent. Their own and their leader's.

Answer:
Leaders need to help their people find meaning in their work and let them do what they're talents lead them to do.

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