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Be cautious about confusing these.

Brian Willis

One of the problems in many organizations is confusing rank, position and title with leadership. Too many organizations still think that a person’s position or title within the organization makes him or her a leader. They do not. Rank, position and title simply mean that you are now in a formal leadership position; it does not mean that you are a leader. Having the corner office or the preferred parking spot do not make you a leader.

Leadership is about action, interaction and influence. In many organizations some of the most influential leaders have no formal rank, position or title. You need to earn the title of “leader”.

The questions your organization needs to ask are:

  • Have we prepared people to succeed in formal leadership positions before actually promoting them to those positions?
  • Have we set them, and the people we want them to lead, up for success by ensuring he or she has the skills, knowledge and training necessary to actually lead people?
  • Do we have a process in place to ensure their ongoing leadership development?
  • Does the person we are promoting have a leadership mentor to help guide them on their journey?

Now, take these four questions, put them in the first person and ask them of yourself. Leadership is too important to leave your professional development up to the organization or to your boss. If you want to be a leader then take responsibility for your education and development. Seek opportunities to learn from people you respect as leaders, and from books, workshops, courses, podcasts and webinars. Put what you are learning into practice. Assess the results and adjust your efforts as necessary.

Find yourself a mentor.  Seek to mentor others. As John Wooden said, “Mentoring is why you should get up every day. To teach and to be taught.”

Organizations who suffer from a leadership void generally confuse title with leadership. People in formal leadership positions who struggle, often confuse their position with leadership.

Leadership is an art, a science and an ongoing journey.

Brian Willis