Abracadabra: You’re a Leader!

If I waved a magic wand and and proclaimed, “You are now Chief Basket Weaver,” would you suddenly know how to make baskets? Of course not! 

If I said you’re a leader or Chief Thingamajig Officer, does that mean you now know how to manage, lead, or design “thingamajigs”? No!

Yet almost weekly, I run into someone with a management or leadership title not because they’re skilled in management or leadership but because they’re charismatic, friends of the CEO or owner, or the longest tenured thingamajig maker. Do they know how to manage others? Hell no! Is that their fault? Certainly not!

If you promote people to leadership roles without leadership skills, you’re torturing everyone and perpetuating bad leadership. You can gain leadership knowledge by working for a good leader, taking training programs, receiving coaching, or doing self-study. But those methods require practice and feedback. You’ll screw up (many times), and that’s good as long as you get effective feedback. 

The best leaders I’ve worked with have a burning desire to improve. They’re serious students of leadership. If they didn’t “grow up” in an organization that had a strong leadership development practice, they sought out mentors and coaches and studied best practices. They then know to only promote people with management skills to management roles or have a development plan in place.

If you know you have significant leadership deficiencies, be vulnerable enough to admit it and do something about it! Hiding behind a title won’t work. I’ve rarely seen a highly talented management team that works for a weak leader. 

If you’re a CEO or senior leader with leadership positions to fill, emphasize your candidates’ ability to engage and align others more than their technical skill or the companies they worked for. Granting titles without ensuring competency is leadership malpractice!

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