Every organisation on this planet wants and has to improve continuously. It’s a leadership challenge CEO’s and their teams grapple with every day. It seems like a complex issue, but perhaps it’s not.
Here’s how: Marry two foundational truths.
- Are in their leadership positions for the right reasons?
- Are sincerely hungry for – not intimidated by – live, real-time feedback on their leadership, to consistently improve?
- Feel fully accountable to them self, others, their organisation and society for becoming a better leader every day?
We need to do what’s necessary – no matter how bold – to ensure consistent quality, authentic leadership becomes the standard in our governments, businesses, educational institutions…everywhere. The time we live and lead in requires this of us. It is our duty and responsibility towards future generations to step up to the plate and hand over the leadership baton in a healthier and more responsible way. The very profession or role of leadership is what will ensure we, our people, our organisations and our broader society survive and hopefully thrive in these unprecedented times. Treat leadership and how we grow authentic leaders as we have been doing and the future will be miserable, extremely bleak, uncontrollable chaos. It sounds pessimistic or negative. But is it really? Someone has to say it and it might as well be us who view ourselves as activists.
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 of people out there. They are the first contact 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.
A call to professionalise leadership could raise the eyebrows of some leaders, as they struggle to reconcile with or wrap their minds around such a vision. Others will express interest. While some will think it’s a brilliant proposal.
I submit that we as a society have no worthwhile alternative if we want to significantly change the collective standard of leadership. What we have done up until now to ensure high standards across the board has frankly been a sad indictment of our world and our understanding of leadership and its irreplaceable role and influence in society. In fact, if we had to account to future generations we may be deeply embarrassed.
The world is producing “Worse” not “Better” leaders
Is this a result we look at, state loudly or think to ourselves that it isn’t surprising, brush over it and move on? Surely not. I know it can be tempting to do because one’s life is so inundated by more than enough deliverables and expectations.