Positional Leadership – “I am my title…”

Position, title and authority are often confused with leadership. True leadership is about taking responsibility for that title or position and not dodging that responsibility…

Leadership is not an actual position or title. Whether you’re the president of a country, a CEO or a junior manager, your title will not make you a leader. Whilst position, title and authority provide you with the potential to lead, they do not make you a leader.

Good leaders know this and take the responsibility for their position or title. Taking the credit when things go well and deflecting the blame when things go bad does not make a good leader.

Accepting responsibility for your actions, or the actions of your team, makes us honourable and trustworthy; essentially it provides evidence to others you are human and have the ability to learn from mistakes and go on developing.

Not taking responsibility for your title, authority and position is a poor way to influence others.

Leading from a title or position has the following negative outcomes:

  1. Leading from position undermines the development of interpersonal relationships.
  2. Leading from position encourages negative internal political behaviours.
  3. Leading from position crushes the human spirit.
  4. Leading from position results in complacence.
  5. Leading from position frustrates creativity and innovation.
  6. Leading from position erodes trust.
  7. Leading from position produces mediocre task results.

When we view leadership as position and authority, we mistake leadership as being about control. The reality is that leadership is about freedom. Leadership is our response to freedom, it’s the decision to accept personal responsibility to bring about positive change.

It’s a choice that we all need to make if we are to grow our skills as a leader.

You don’t need a title or position to lead. Leadership can be enacted by anyone, it’s not dependant on position, title or authority. Everyone has the potential to lead.

Leadership is a choice. The desire and will to lead is all that is needed. It’s more important that we ask ourselves “am I practicing leadership and showing it to others?” rather than asking “am I the leader?”.

True leaders are those individuals who choose to engage in the practice of leadership and take responsibility for their actions. The extent to which we consciously choose to engage in this process of leadership and take on that function, that act, of responsibility, you are practicing the art of leadership no matter what your title or position.

Leaders don’t exploit their position, instead take responsibility, they inspire and motivate others to act in ways that achieve a shared vision.

‘All the effective leaders I have encountered – both those I worked with and those I merely watched – knew four simple things: a leader is someone who has followers; popularity is not leadership, results are; leaders are highly visible, they set examples; leadership is not rank, privilege, titles or money, it is responsibility.’ Peter Drucker

Published on Sep 24, 2013 by Andy Wadham