Absent, but not gone

My apologies for my recent absences in writing on here.  The last two weeks have been the start of school and hockey for my two kids and unfortunately there just weren’t enough hours in the day for everything.

But it makes me consider what happens when leadership is absent?  I think we have all worked in that world at one point or another when you felt like no one was steering the ship.  Maybe you are working there right now. They say that in the absence of leadership people will follow any fool with something to say.  I have not found that to be always true.  In most cases when leadership is absent people lead themselves, and not typically in the same direction.

There are occasions when non-anointed leaders will step up.  When the vacuum of non-leadership is such that the organization is unable to function you will see your “natural leaders” emerge.  However, in many cases when this happens they are simply leading blind with no understanding of the larger goal of the organization.  There is typically a separation between these natural leaders and the big “L” Leadership of the organization, and thus they really don’t know where they are leading to in an organizational context.

The other scenario in this is when leadership is named, but not actually capable of leading.  I think we have all heard someone say “he doesn’t have what it takes to lead” about someone that was actually in a leadership position.  We see this exhibit itself in things like professional sports all the time.  In football the quarterback is the understood leader of the team, but in some cases the player in that position does not have skills as a leader.  If a team is lucky another leader will emerge, but if they are not the leadership will flounder and the team will never coalesce around that person.

So what is the bottom line to this?  It is that leadership is not given by position, or title, or professional accomplishment.  Leadership is a gift, and like all gifts it can neither be suppressed nor can it be forced.  Leadership does not always come from the top, although it should, but rather sometimes it comes from the middle or the bottom or the left or the right.

If you haven’t seen this check out this video about how leadership develops as demonstrated by a shirtless dancing man.

The key is that no one appointed him leader, and yet still eventually people followed.  Followers are “what transforms a lone nut into a leader”.

So what will you step up and lead today?

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