A Leadership Recipe

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Written by:  Tino Hernandez

People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.

Theodore Roosevelt


Have you seen those posts that talk about the difference between leaders and bosses?  You know, people do what bosses ask because the boss uses brute force to get what he or she needs.  On the other hand, there is the leader whom people follow because he or she uses a whole different approach. Makes sense right?

What does not make sense is the way we sometimes pick our workplace leaders.  It works sort of like this:  Employee A is a great employee. She knows the systems, knows how to work within that system, is always here, has a great attitude towards her work and her efficiency is stellar. Let’s make her a leader!

Dear Ms. A, you have been promoted to a leader and here goes a nice raise to go with that new position.

We figure that a good employee will surely a good leader make.  The problem is that they are good at working within an established system of productivity and now we expect them to work within a leadership system.

If you are in a position of leadership you know what I’m talking about.  There’s the leading of the newly inherited subordinates, the problem-solving skills that will be required, the ability to self-direct, the ability to empathize, the ability to see the bigger picture, multi-task (as if that ability even existed), attend copious meetings, committee assignments, time keeping, record keeping, reporting and on and on the list goes.

Whoa! Shut the front door! I didn’t sign up for this.  I have no idea how to do this.  How do I motivate my employees?  OMG I’m failing at my duties!  These are just a few of the thoughts going through our new leaders mind.  The result?  They begin to act like bosses and not like leaders.

We owe it to our newly appointed leaders, and those we feel we may appoint in the future, to carefully evaluate their capacity and even their desire to be a leader.  If a leadership candidate shows reluctance towards the offer perhaps a moment to consider, without the pay increase carrot being dangled in front of them, would be appropriate.  Adequate training and mentorship would be our best course of action.

Making leaders is a process that cannot be hurried. Leadership isn’t about spreadsheets, reports, professional vocabulary etc.  Leadership happens in a place that’s beyond thought.  I believe that leadership begins in the gut.  In our primal brain, the part of our mind that has no words to express its intention.  Leadership cannot be faked, either its real or its not.  Hence all of the posts regarding the difference between bosses and leaders.

Most assuredly there are leadership “methods” that one can learn and employ, but a true leader has the soul of a leader.  It takes some time to mature a true leader.

Let’s be sure to choose our leaders wisely both for their success and that of their teams.

Tino Hernandez



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