This bite brings out some of the myths in leadership and even some of the bloopers we commit unconsciously, subconsciously and even consciously at the workplace. You often hear this at the workplace: ‘when I get to the top’. Unfortunately, some don’t get to the top and some may not get to the top (obviously not with such an attitude). The good books mentions that it is good for a man to live for at least three scores and a ten. This should be God’s plan, but remember that man is never guaranteed seventy years on earth. To the point, you are not guaranteed to get to the top. In other words, if you fail to unleash your potential now, you may leave without exhibiting your talents. Honestly, I’d wanted to write this book at age seventy. But for the same reason, I chose to publish now.
If management can’t trust you with one pesewa, management won’t trust you with one cedi. I just want you to start thinking, acting and subsequently contributing to the workplace as though you are at the top because you are where you are working towards where you want to be. A middle level manager in an acting role was invited for an engagement to justify why she can fill in the substantive position as Head of Quality Service. She said, and I quote: ‘Sir! There’s a lot I can do but just that I have not been confirmed as the Head of this sensitive Strategic Business support unit yet’. So I asked: what is that burning desire in you to put yourself up for this sensitive ‘vacancy’? She confidently voiced: ‘just make me the Head of Quality Service and poor quality service delivery in our bank shall be a thing of the past. In my mind, I said: NIMBY (notin my backyard).
Colleagues who speak and act like: ‘when I get to the top’, would have been doing everything ‘right’ to get to the top. I mean politics. But their posture reads, ‘I won’t do it until I get to the top’. So the bite asks, what are you waiting for? Say it, do it and act it now.
Some of us don’t get it. May be your ‘top’ is now. You should always be on top. When you are on top of your role, it is always easy to get to the next ladder on your way to the top. The workplace always promotes people who are already on top of their tasks and are on their way to the top. Don’t get used to the chant: ‘when I get to the top’. Always motivate self and push 101%. Ask of the targets and ask of the vision and excel. In my career, I never asked for anything. All I needed from my Line Manager was to just show me the vision. I need no promises. I always wore the CEO hat from my officer days till date.
This leadership myth of ‘when I get to the top, I’ll give my all’ must be slaughtered and buried in the abyss of the deep soils. Folks, if management can’t trust you with one pesewa, management won’t trust you with one cedi. We are the ones to promote ourselves. You cannot get to the top if you don’t start thinking like you belong to the top. Given the chance, the support, requisite training, good background and logistics, everyone can be a good employee. What will make you a better employee is to accept additional responsibilities and also getting out of the myth: ‘when I get to the top’. Be on top now. Think and act like a leader, now.
Another blooper in leadership is to have the view that, I am a manager and therefore I am a leader. It’s not always the case. My kind regrets. If you refer to the extracts from the previous bites it’s obvious that, you can be a manager and become a loner, and not a leader. This is simple. Leaders get their mandate from their followers. Without a follower you cannot call yourself a leader.
Grasp this straight. You do not have to wear the Leader’s hat before you start leading. Start leading from your desk. The word is influence. Nothing more, nothing less- John C. Maxwell hinted. Nurture influence through competence, at the workplace. Learn more and accept bigger responsibilities, show interest in your colleagues’ deliveries and deliverables and think through the ARAR- Authority, Responsibility, Accountability and Rewards.
This myth of placing a manager on the same pedestal with a leader appears worrying sometimes. This is because management and colleagues always want to see a manager leading. Here is the point, management and colleagues should not expect much. Expect the manager to manage perfectly. Then, expect the leader to also lead. Folks, never be pushy in demanding that a manager must categorically be a leader. If he does, he may be leading without followers. Leaders would want their followers to know as much as they know. A manager may not. The world has few leaders but many managers.
In actual fact, the team should be delivering because the team has learnt and therefore know what to do in the absence of the leader. In effect, a leader reproduces his kind. In the absence of the leader, there should be many leaders who at any point in time, think like the leader. This is a mark of a living organization, where training and development runs through the organizational set up. A leader must learn to die empty. Knowledge transfer must be a hobby for a leader.
The thinking, training and development process must however be natural with free flowing but controlled information and education at any time. Unlike processes, procedures, regulations and equipping teams with technical proficiencies, the leadership thinking process should not be enforced. You must not also write it off when some followers push up to be leaders when their time is not up yet. Create an incubation school to groom and incubate confident leaders. This is a mark of learning organizations. It’s important to do so to manage expectation of highflying employees. It is good for teams to see the bigger picture to enable them imagine themselves in the big frame. Paint the picture big. Paint the picture clear. Be careful however not to push your team to think and do things exactly like you do or else you’ll be raising young politicians and not professionals. Allow teams to think differently as you align their thoughts, positively. There’s knowledge in putting together diverse opinions. Thinking like leaders should be natural or else the workplace will be breeding boot-licking half-baked micro-waved leaders, seeking favours and not working.
Avoiding the leadership bloopers, slipups and myths and subsequently forging ahead to be that great leader, I urge you not to say, ‘when I get to the top’. Just do what you would have done if you were at the top and you’ll be amazed how soon you actually get to the top. Don’t quit. Just do it. You may never know how close you are to the top. The top is actually nowhere. The top is where you are now. Own it. Be on top of your game and be consistent with your delivery. This is the way to the top.
For this is Leadership!
Author: Richard Kwarteng Ahenkorah
Principal Trainer, Eagle Knowledge Institute || Author: Your Journey To The Top