Success at Work

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Can leadership be shown bottom-up? How often have you influenced your boss to think or act differently? Is this not leadership shown by you to your boss?

We have heard of folk psychology and folk medicine – everyday beliefs about how the mind and body work – but what about folk leadership? Is there a primitive concept of leadership that is now outdated?

We often think of leadership in terms of traits or competencies but we also have leadership models: Level 5 Leadership (Jim Collins), Servant Leadership, and Authentic Leadership among others.

The creative class will rule the 21st century according to Richard Florida1. Creative class employees are innovative knowledge workers. If Florida is right, a massive power shift will make creative class employees the new leaders.

Leadership is shown by influencing people to change direction. But what forms of influence count as leadership? How does it differ from managerial influence?

We need to stop viewing executives as leaders or managers because leadership and management are functions or activities, not roles. Executives occasionally lead and manage but so do all other employees.

What is the most essential leadership trait? Integrity? Vision? Emotional intelligence? The truth: there are none. They are ALL situational requirements.

Diversity and wise crowds create new ideas. With business now a war of ideas, leadership shifts to the power of the latest idea and is thus fragmented and dispersed across multiple sources. It is no longer a role or type of person, but our need for leaders to be parent figures is blocking this shift in perspective.

The idea that women are better leaders than men is gaining ground. Post-heroic leadership is all about collaboration, relationships and nurturing talent. Men, it is claimed, are too individualist, competitive and aggressive, too lacking in feminine interpersonal skills to lead in this new arena.

Agreement is nearly universal that leadership can be learned. If leadership means being an executive, then there are clearly learnable skills for this role. But if leadership is an occasional act of influence, not a role,  then it's not so clear what can be developed.