Ok, I haven’t done a pet peeve blog post in awhile. I feel the need to release a little!
I’ve had the pleasure to work with a number of individuals at a variety of companies. This breadth has been beneficial in helping to identify patterns surrounding leaders. Today, I’m going to focus in on one aspect…are you leading or directing?
Many people feel comfortable saying, “I’m part of leadership”. Many people feel comfortable saying their title, “I’m the Director of Development”. Listen to how many people imply they are a leader then listen even deeper, is it actually accurate?
I’ve been noticing people often use the word “leader” as a weapon. Do this…I’m the leader. When reality is more: Do this…I’m directing.
There absolutely is a time and a place for directing: helping things get done through telling. You might have the clearest vantage point to organize. You might have the autonomy to make the decisions. You might be in a survival situation with the organization (think startups). I’m all for directing when appropriate but let’s not confuse this with leading.
Leading is helping things get done through leveling others up. I love this quote:
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
—John Quincy Adams
Leading takes way more effort! Leading is way more complex! Leading is way more challenging! So why lead? Leading is way more rewarding!!!
- Leading helps organizations scale: If you are a “leader” and you are a bottleneck for decisions, etc…you are likely directing more than leading. Stop prioritizing the short term costs over long term benefits of helping others do what you can do.
- Leading helps people be motivated: If you are a “leader”,and struggle for people to share responsibility in results…you are likely directing more than leading. Leaders inspire others to do more than they thought they could, that produces ridiculous amounts of motivation.
- Leading helps stir innovation: If you are a “leader” and watching your products/services become obsolete…you are likely directing more than leading. Foster environments where people dream and create.
- Leading helps you: If you are a “leader” and exhausted at the end of the day because you never seem to catch up and it’s always the same problems over and over again…you are likely directing more than leading. If you make yourself indispensable, it will be true; regardless of the cost. That’s a cost to you, to others and to the organization.
Why is this a pet peeve because it absolutely triggers emotions in me. I have to hold back from saying something like: “Stop. You are not a leader. You are now part of a leadership team and need to learn how to be a leader. That’s ok. Embrace that learning. Stop giving ammunition to the Dilbert cartoon people”.
As much as this is my pet peeve, I own that I can’t simply judge others. Instead, this serves as opportunity for others and for me to grow. If this stuff was easy, I wouldn’t be sharing. I wouldn’t have created a course.
What are your pet peeves?