Enjoying a good discussion and when writing “Why should anyone be led by you? That’s a dumb question.” there was hope that someone would respond, challenging the assertion that the why in leadership is a dumb questions, when no context is applied.
- in response to the original blog post
Hi, Mike! I found your comments to be interesting. A question: If “Why should anyone be led by you?” is such a stupid question, why does it stump most leaders? You need competence as well as the ability to connect to be an effective leader. 47% of senior managers believe they are inspirational leaders, but only 8% of their followers agree!
Research also suggests that higher ratings of personal connection are more predictive of a high performing leader than competence alone. Leaders need to excite employees to extraordinary performance, and without a connection, this is impossible (source: BlessingWhite).
Responses. – ‘Why does it stump most leaders?’
As stated in my title, it’s a stupid question. That has no basis in reality. “Leadership” of what? To where? In what context? If I am a sports team captain, then I am exercising leadership through my competence of the sport I am playing. You cannot take an excellent Soccer-Leader and place him/her into a corporate board room and expect their “leadership” skills to transfer.
The issue to rise is that all these character traits inspiration, good listener, caring, competence, etc… are only seen as positive character traits of Managerial-Leaders who have competence in their work. Once ability in the work, then the misattribution of quality characteristics happens. You can most likely take this same person who is “inspirational” put them in front of a different audience that this person has no competence in, and they will not be seen as inspirational.
Additionally…leading individuals and Managerial-Leaders to believe that they must be inspirational only goes to inflate the demagogue CEO problem further. People are inspired by making progress on work that is meaningful to them. People are motivated when their manager sets broad enough goals to allow for some degree of autonomy. BUT not so wide to leave them confused; are supplied with the adequate resources to complete the goals; have confidence in understanding their role-accountability and authority within the team + organization, and have metrics to measure progress and regress on their work.
An “inspirational” leader can inspire until blue in the face…if the manager does not have the competence to add value to someone’s work, they will not be seen as inspirational…
Now to your research…Having a connection with employees is part of every skilled manager’s job…adding value to the work of subordinates. Managerial Leadership as I defined in the article – “Managerial accountability includes the use of leadership within the role of manager. You cannot be an effective manager without getting those you manage to move along with collaboration and enthusiasm with the Goals of your manager and you as a manager.”
No one needs to excite employees through magical thinking and connection. If a manager is doing their work, they are held accountable for the output of subordinates plus responsible for the development of a team that works along with each other, the manager, the manager’s manager and the organization to achieve the goals of the organization. The excitement ought to come from the person working to their full capacity, within the roles they can complete this in.
Returning to my original point, Why should anyone be led by you? Is a dumb question because it creates a deeper disconnect between the supposed Leaders and the others. This will only work to achieve the opposite of what it seems you wish to achieve.