Professionalise Leadership Before That First Promotion
World over individuals are promoted into leadership positions, based on their technical performance history and very seldom – if ever – on their leadership history or abilities. These crucial changes are “disguised” behind titles like supervisor or manager. But let’s be frank about it, they become leaders; they achieve objectives through others; they influence different, unique and complex human beings directly in a formal capacity. In fact, they set the foundation for the collective reputation and perception of leadership as a whole, due to the lived experience of millions led by them. They are the first experience with official leadership for far too many followers. How does this even make sense? No individual should occupy the sacred role of leading without first achieving leadership fitness, proving that they have or are undergoing a continuous journey of qualifying for the privilege; of making sure their perspective on leadership and its infinitely important role is accurate and authentic from the start. Imagine if we allowed individuals to start building bridges before qualifying as Engineers; Surgeons to operate on patients before qualifying; and so on.
Why has the leadership profession allowed this travesty to take place? Doctors, Engineers, Accountant’s and others didn’t allow it to happen to their professions. No wonder survey after survey indicates how desperately unhappy followers or employees are! No wonder there is such an immense trust deficit between leaders and followers. We allow technically minded leadership novices to learn at the expense of human beings. Perhaps – if an organisation is well organised – they send newly appointed leaders on a once-off “supervisory” course that hardly makes any difference at all. It certainly doesn’t transition that person from a pattern or mindset where they spent years being rewarded and recognised for technical thinking, doing and performing to leadership thinking, doing and performing.
Now, to be fair, in any profession prospects learn on the job, to some degree. However, it is mostly under strict supervision of other professionals and it is on route to participants becoming professional themselves. So it is part of a coordinated and continuous process that takes that person to a fully confident and professional state. It’s not a case of being supervised by other unfit leaders who themselves have never fully transitioned from a technical, functional orientation.
One of the most important needs in our society is the professionalisation of leadership. Permanently lifting the collective standard of leadership in every country, sector and on every level – junior to senior – will significantly change every aspect of our world. It will be a process. But we have what it takes to start this mission-critical journey.
If you can and want to help realise this vision for yourself, your organisation’s leaders, your existing professional body or across society, please engage us. Look forward to hearing from you.