Puppets Don’t Lead
Eliminate, “I’m letting people lead,” from your vocabulary. “I’m letting people lead,” means they aren’t really leading, you are.
“Letting people lead,” suggests you hold the strings. As long as you control others, you lead. They’re puppets.
Puppets don’t lead.
Language is never just semantics.
“Let” language reeks of arrogance. Oh my! It’s so big of you to “let” others lead.
“Let” may mean authorize or grant the right to. But, typically, in leadership circles, letting others lead means allow.
Others won’t own what you allow.
- I’m learning to be led by others. A leader of leaders learns to be led by others. If you’re always the leader, others aren’t leading.
- I’m learning to enable and liberate those who aspire to lead.
- I’m giving authority away.
- We’re choosing a path forward and leading together. It’s “we” not “me.”
- I’m defining my role as a partner, not a parent. Read Peter Block’s book, Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self-Interest.
7 indications others are leading:
- You’re excited, not offended, when your ideas are challenged. Constructive dissent is normal, expected, and honored.
- People improve without your involvement.
- Changes are made without your permission.
- People don’t fear making responsible mistakes.
- You feel left out.
- Accountability flows both ways.
- People control themselves. Accountability is more about transparency of process and responsibility for results, not being pressured from the outside.
5 ways to liberate leaders in your organization:
Developing leaders is the greatest opportunity of leadership. It’s also the most challenging.
- Develop shared vision for leadership as partnership in your organization.
- Discuss the process of transferring authority.
- Create clear responsibilities and accountability.
- Exercise brutal transparency with kindness.
- Practice forward-facing curiosity.
What prevents experienced leaders from liberating new leaders in their organizations?
How might leaders develop leaders without being puppet masters?
A Leader is an innovator, a guider, a tutor to mentor possibilities, they empower- they don’t allow Out-of-control and Mayhem to participate with Confusion.
A Leader is selfless with a selfish motive of success
A Leader has a vision that they instill in the team, wherein they see the premise and the conclusion and realize they are the process.
A Leader defines who is responsible and accountable for the various process steps. This is the short version
The vary issues you identify as delinquent in this leadership scenario in fact displays there is “no” leadership. Whoever is chartered with that “leader” moniker in fact likely will never attain leadership qualities; to actually lead by example and part of their total makeup of sacrifice which is different than Hari Kari.
Most importantly what I see failing is the very concept of Leader. They are a small group, nucleus of individuals. Leading can be taught to one who has the basic characteristics of desire and thinking processes. But it is much more than a Manager. A Leader leads and manages. A Manager isn’t necessarily a Leader. What I see in these topics is that many respondents don’t truly understand the difference in Leader, Leadership, and just managing a process.
The real topic is defining the culturing of a Leader. And that is so much more than a few snippets of quandary and solutions. It’s inherent to one’s DNA and not everyone, most candidly, do not have the DNA makeup; a Leader gives and imparts vs taking and seeking the glory and title
Thanks Don. You certainly added a lot for us to think about it. In particular the difference between manager and leader is important.
I see this framework on leadership much like the whole “thing” about empowering people or engaging people. YOU cannot do that to them. It is simply impossible for anyone to engage anyone else — all one can do is create an engaging or empowering environment and then help them to make the right choices.
More good stuff, Dan. Rock and roll!
Thanks Dr. Scott. Exactly. The sooner we realize that engagement, power, ownership, and accountability all come from within others, the better off we’ll be. The term inspire is a good leadership term. It acknowledges that the power, motivation, and energy come from within.
Thanks for the good word!
I think you need to elaborate some more on the “New Language”. There can be two ways to look at the statements
Agreed. I felt as though some of the new language was caught up in semantics.
Thanks Don. It’s just words, right? 🙂
Thanks Rajiv. The heart of the “new” language is all about learning new ways to create space for others to lead. You may prefer different language. 🙂
You end with such a key point, Dan. We need leaders who don’t just look to lead well, but who understand a significant aspect of their role is intentionally cultivating new leadership. That’s a scary thing for some, as people struggle with how to let go, knowing truly empowering others means things will get done differently. Maybe not as well, maybe even better, but most significantly getting done otherwise than how YOU would have done it. Intentionally working to empower others to lead, not just “let” them lead, is to the benefit of both the leader and the “leaders-in-training.”
Thanks Jim. You’re nailing an important point. People are different. In order to lead them we must celebrate, even liberate, that difference. It’s not easy because my way is the “right” way. Thanks for sharing your insights.
I fully endorse your comment Jim. We do need leaders who don’t just look to lead well, but who understand that a significant aspect of their role is intentionally cultivating new leadership. Yes it is indeed a scary thing for some. In my organization Senior Managers are given full autonomy to lead but some struggle with how to let go managing routine activities because the persons that these activities are delegated to get things done differently and even better.