Before you say, "I don't want to read this blog because I'm not a leader," keep in mind we all are leaders in some form....maybe not intentionally, but at least by design, because of the roles that we have as a parent, spouse, employee, church or community member.
Leadership is something I do, something I have had done to me, but most importantly, is something I am interested in improving. I have a shelf full of books with thoughts on leadership. I subscribe to Dan Rockwell's leadership blog (food for thought in an efficient 300 words or less!) And I firmly believe, as my friend Dayna always says, "Leadership Matters!"
There are many ways to examine the effectiveness of leadership styles. So let's focus on changing an often used pattern that does not produce the kind of results one would like to have. My question becomes, "What would leadership look like if it was viewed from the bottom up?"
True leadership is about people. Often our leaders are about management, which involves "things". How differently would our results be if we focused on the leading of people so that the "things" could get accomplished?
The business model of Why, How, and What developed by Simon Sinek, and shared by Lois Brown Easton in Learning Forward's Tools for Learning Schools from an educational perspective, shows us how leaders can inspire action and sustain the changes that are being implemented. A typical top down initiative would find the leader telling you what to do and how to do it, leaving you asking why and feeling like you've been forced to act as you mumble under your breath. We've all experienced this whether it was our father, a teacher, or our boss and it feels like, "Do as I say!" And the answer to our often unspoken "why" question, is "Because I said so!"
But what if the leader had shared the why first, helping stakeholders understand the need for change, before presenting the how, and the what? Consider how that one strategic move could adjust your whole attitude toward the change?
Why clarifies. Why sets the stage. Why allows opportunities for stakeholders to ask their own questions and can lead to a belief that the change is necessary so they are more receptive to how it will occur and what they will have to do. So in effect we have reversed the typical outside - in pattern.... looking now from the inside - out, considering the thoughts and feelings of the people you lead in order to get things done!
The people are the heart of any group or organization. Keeping their perspective in mind helps you to lead inside - out and from the bottom up! Not only does leadership matter, how you lead matters the most!