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Wednesday Wisdom: A title does not make someone a leader

I remember the first “leadership title” I had. I was so proud. I thought I was so “cool.” I was focused on the benefits I was getting as a result of the title I had…especially the raise I got. The problem was, I was not a leader. I did not know how to lead people. I was focused on me. That was it.

Unfortunately even with amazing candidates in the workplace and with all the leadership training that is available, people are chosen for leadership jobs based on longevity or favoritism. I like to call them LINO’s: Leaders in name only.

I am sure if you are reading this that someone’s name came to mind. That person as your workplace who has a title given to a leader but who is not leading people. In many cases, you may realize you are a better leader than the person with the title.

I wish I knew what the answer was. I really do. Simply saying do not move someone into a leadership position that does not possess the qualities of leader will not do the trick. I once had a leader who was a super producer but did not have any leadership skills at all. The senior leadership overlooked that because this person was a high producer. Unfortunately the downstream effects caused by the senior leaders looking the other way was devastating to the team. The environment was toxic and many of the people ended up moving on.

Here is what I can say. If you are in the position of choosing a leader to advance, it is your responsibility to make sure that this person is able to lead others. They need to be a servant, honest, trustworthy, have integrity and be able to communicate. They must be able to look outside of themselves and think about the best interest of others. Get them some additional training. Set them up for success.

If you are someone who has been moved into a position where you have a title that is given to people in leadership, this does not mean you have “arrived.” The title does not make you a leader. What you do with the position you have been put in is what shows you are a leader. Leadership is not about you. It is about your people. In addition to leading others you must lead yourself.

Part of leading yourself is becoming self-aware. You must be able to see where you need some improvement. Invest in some training on your own if your company will not provide you with training. Get yourself a good mentor or a coach to help you grow. By the way, reading books does not make you a leader. Getting out and getting it done is the best way to learn and experience the honor of being a leader. You must try, fail, learn and try again. Every single day. Your people are counting on you, and they are watching.


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