There are way too many people out there who assume just because they have a title on their business card, they have the right, authority, and ability to lead.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Leadership is a mindset and not a title.

Now, more than ever, we are seeing the effects of companies that have people in positions with titles and no ability to lead.

Leadership is about inspiring others. It is about being able to gain trust and motivate others to be the best version of themselves – to help those they lead to grow, think critically, and learn from mistakes.

Traditional command and control management styles leaning heavily on carrot and stick toolboxes are no longer valid.

In the world we live in, people have access to way too much information for those methods to work. From internal Slack channels to social media to peer review sites, employees can determine for themselves what is happening beyond their own companies, and see there are other options available to them.

Employees now realize what fantastic company culture and great leadership are, and how they can benefit. Employees no longer believe every company acts the same and treats their staff the same way. Instead, they see more options on whether to stay or to go.

Employees are talking about how companies do layoffs. 

There are stories of mass layoffs by text, Zoom chats, and conference calls.

While there is not a good way to lay people off, there are certainly bad ways, and those ways usually include demonstrating little empathy and no explanation or consideration for those affected.

How you lay off your employees, and the leadership (or lack of leadership) you show in doing so, will reflect either well or poorly on your brand.

After business resumes, everyone will hear and know about how you treated those who worked for you during the crisis, and that will make it either easier or harder to retain great employees – and potentially customers.

I personally know a story of a research facility shutting down and relocating after thirty years, where the employer made sure that every employee either landed another job or had their pensions topped up so they retired with full benefits.

They could have easily shut down the facility and given everyone two weeks’ notice – but they did not. Instead, they stayed open for almost a year, invited other tech firms to their facility for job fairs, provided retraining to those who needed it, and made sure everyone was taken care of.

When I asked to CEO of the research facility why the parent company was doing this, they said, “Because it was the right thing to do. . . period.”

Leadership requires training.

There may be innate skills that people have, but becoming a good leader requires ongoing mentoring, training, and evaluating what you are doing right, and what you could be doing better.

Most people, unfortunately, are not allowed to succeed as leaders. They are victims of the Peter Principle.

“In a Hierarchy, Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.”

A terrifying thought indeed.

What this principle is stating is that we promote people to a point where they are no longer capable, which often means everyone around them suffers.

Ineffective leaders cannot and will not develop new leaders. They do not promote ideas other than their own, and they tend to take credit for work and creative initiatives that they were minimally involved in.

This style of management causes not only resentment, but leads to disengagement, lack of productivity, and turnover.

Coached, motivated, and trained leaders, conversely, wake up every morning with the mindset of “How can I help my teams succeed, and what tools can I provide them to make their lives better?”

That is the essence of leadership, inspiring others to be their best, and creating opportunities to develop the next generation of leaders.

I leave you with these questions:

  • Who are the people who are stepping up in your organization, and who are the people who are stepping back?
  • In both cases, what are you doing to motivate everyone to be better?

BONUS Toolkit for managers and leaders:

Working from home when you are not used to it, and when you do not have the right tools, technology, and support can be difficult and disheartening. I have created an ongoing video series that will address how to be more successful leading remote teams. You can find it here.

Please feel to reach out with any questions, concerns, or challenges.