This post is a contribution to the Carnival of HR, which is being hosted on Dovetail Software Blog beginning March 27, 2013. Click over to Dovetail Software and read some of the other posts written on the topic of “Sharing.”
I once believed that leadership was an achievement that resulted from a process of developing knowledge, skills, and experience -not to mention an accumulation of battle scars. The problem with this idea of leadership development is that it is incomplete at best, but more likely just wrong. If it was true, then leadership development would largely be an academic process, with a bit of practice along the journey.
I’ve learned that leadership development is not a path to enlightenment; it is an interactive growth process. The most significant growth comes when you realize that your focus is not simply about developing yourself, but rather it is the development of self and the development of others. The real work of leadership is sharing your knowledge, expertise and experience to help others succeed.
Engagement of Followers
One of the most remarkable leaders with whom I’ve worked is also one of the most transparent teachers I’ve ever met. Not only did he share his challenges, approaches and the reasons for his decisions with his team, but he discussed them openly while he was working on them. He asked for ideas, and invited his direct reports to challenge him on the key issues that would affect the organization. He would go back to the decisions that he made to engage in a postmortem analysis. On the surface, his leadership style allowed his direct reports access to information, motives, strategy, and the opportunity to influence the direction of the organization.
On a deeper level, this sharing engaged a broader group of people to learn collectively through leadership experience, while it was occurring. He had a highly performing leadership team and organization, and the most engaged leadership team that I’ve ever seen.
Leadership through Influence
Not all of us will hold high-level positions in large organizations. However, we all can directly influence the life and work of others. We influence through leadership work. The real work of leadership is sharing our knowledge, expertise and experience to help others succeed.
Influence through Social Media
I subscribe to many blogs that are written by people who deliver content that influences my life every day. I’ve learned more about managing diabetes issues from blogs than from any other source. I tweak my running and training strategies based on the advice of other runners who share their experiences. And, I stay tuned into HR and leadership thought through a number of bloggers and social media influencers. What’s interesting to me is that many of these people who influence my life do not hold high-level leadership positions in organizations; some of them make a living through something other than what they write.
Leadership is not a position, it is a choice. The real work of leadership is sharing our knowledge, expertise and experience to help others succeed. The most significant progress that I’ve made in my leadership journey has always been the result of what other leaders have taught me, and through what they are humble enough to share.
How do you share what you know to help others succeed?