The Real Privileges of Leadership

The Real Privileges of Leadership

So you think Leadership comes with privileges? It does. It comes with huge privilege, in fact. But I often run into leaders who see these privileges through 1970’s glasses. In the year 2016, the privileges of leadership are great – in fact, I believe they are greater than they have ever been. But if you’re using decades old thinking about leadership, you’re missing out on the best parts. And your people are, too.

Here are privileges leadership doesn’t give you in the year 2016:

  1. Flexible schedule
    • If you’re thinking that you get to come and go just because you have a title, you’ve got it wrong. In today’s world, flexibility is cost of entry for hiring great people. Everyone expects it and it just makes sense.
  2. Ability to control other people’s actions
    • Sorry, but command and control leadership is dead. In the days when most people worked on a line manufacturing widgets, there may have been only one “right” or most efficient way to do things. Perhaps then, it was important to have strict rules and control over people (although even then, not really)… but today, people expect to be able to find the best way for them to get their work done. And doesn’t it make sense for them to do that?
  3. The option of working from home
    • How dare a “subordinate” request to work from home in a snowstorm! That is a privilege of management! Really? Can the person get their work done from home? If so, their title shouldn’t matter. Manage the work, not where they do it. (P.S. just the word “subordinate” is cringe-worthy!)
  4.  The best parking spots
    • If your organization still has the “Executive” parking spots close to the front door, you’re saying that the hierarchy is more important than your customers or your employees. For decades, companies have said that their biggest “asset” is their people, yet they treat lower level employees like lower class people. Just take away this sign of classification.
  5. Making decisions without being questioned
    • If nobody ever questions a decision you make, you have a problem. When people do not question things, it may be because they fear repercussions, or it may be because they don’t care. Either way, you’ll also find complacency and lack of innovation. Not good for any leader or organization.
  6. Power! (cue evil laugh)
    via GIPHY

    • If you think because you’re a manager, people will follow you, you’re dead wrong. You may be able to get them to do things your way in the short term, but the power you gain with a title is far less than that you gain from treating people with respect, trust, and dignity. People who are intrinsically motivated far outperform those who are only rewarded extrinsically.

Leadership is a Commitment

So now you might be wondering, if none of these privileges come with being a leader, why bother! And this is a good question. Because with Leadership comes responsibility. Leadership is a commitment far greater than simply doing a job. Leadership impacts people’s lives, their emotions, and the results of your organization. Leaders need to spend time being a leader. Leadership means thinking strategically about (and discussing) the future – and the higher up you are, the further out and the more time this takes. Leadership means having discussions with people about their performance, their aspirations and their lives. Leadership means supporting your team through change, challenges and personal issues. Leadership means knowing what your values are, standing up for them and living them at work even when things are tough. Leadership means trusting people and being worthy of their trust.

Leadership is a lot of work, but it has extraordinary privileges.

Here are just a few:

  • Being able to develop and mentor people
  • Making a difference to those whom you work with
  • Being trusted to help people with their needs and often with their most vulnerable moments
  • Providing feedback that can change a person’s perception and help them to realize their true potential
  • Inspiring people to share a common purpose and vision
  • Supporting people to do their best work
  • Involving people in solving problems, making changes, innovating products and services

These privileges make you a better leader. They make your organization more successful. And they influence your people to follow you, even in tough times.

The best thing about leadership?

It actually doesn’t require a title. If you look at the privileges you get with it, anyone can take advantage of these. Leadership happens across titles, functions, generations and borders. It just takes you, changing your focus, being more human and thoughtful, and genuinely caring about people. Who knows, maybe a title will follow?

What do you think the best thing about leading people is?

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1 Comment

  1. March 22, 2016 at 8:02 am

    […] to them. We tell them to leave their lives at the door. We give people higher in the hierarchy privileges that others don’t […]

    Reply »

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