Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Running for Election

Anyone in a leadership positions runs for election every day. Each day that person must win the approval of those whom he would lead.

To be in a leadership position is not the same as being a leader. A person leads by establishing a direction and by setting a tone. If a direction is not established there is nowhere to go and one cannot lead to nowhere.

Often the direction is assumed. We expect others to know the destination without explicitly telling them. Have you ever gone shopping with someone with the idea you were looking for a certain product and would up shopping for something completely different or for several more items? In such cases the direction (or goals) were different.

Leading also involves setting a tone. It is the “how” of getting to “where.” Do we want others to be methodical in accomplishing the goal or do we want it done as quickly as possible, without great concern about the quality? Each approach can be appropriate in the right situation.

So the leader must establish and articulate the “what” and the “how.” Those who would follow decide if they want to go in the same direction and if they want to go by the same method as the “leader.” In a retail setting, is my goal to sell the store product or to sell warranties and credit cards? A leader makes sure I know that. I, as the worker, determine how I buy into that idea. My actions are my vote on the leadership. Do I buy in completely and enthusiastically follow the goal, or do I do enough? Either way, I have voted on the leader that day.