A Wallflower Leader is Not a Leader

Manager, Supervisor…just other terms for leaders

photo by a tai. via PhotoRee

It amazes me how often people in these positions lose sight of one of the fundamental keys to their roles…providing leadership.  Likely they were moved into these roles because the organization felt they could add to the leadership strength of the company.  Yet many, when presented with the opportunity to provide real leadership and guidance, shy away as if this is a privilege reserved only for the upper echelon of the organization.  They act like their role is merely to do and not to ask, guide, direct, etc.

A perfect example comes from something I have observed in my career.  My employer at the time provided a monthly forum for supervisors and managers to call in and provide their thoughts, ideas, opinions on set topics (e.g. performance management, communications, etc.).  This forum was only open to managers and supervisors.  Leaders at higher levels were kept out, one because they have their own forums and two to allow the participants to feel comfortable and open with their opinions.  Being a manager myself, I participated in many of these forums and every time I was astounded by the lack of participation.  Either people didn’t show up or those that did kept silent on their phones.  It was as if the everything was rosy in the company.  Many of the “no shows” were some of the same people I had heard complaining about specific aspects that could use improvement.

This got me wondering, “what did they think their roles were once they were promoted or hired into the title of manager?”  Had they not realized that the title of manager or supervisor was just another term for leader?  If not, what was their definition of leader?

To me a leader sees themselves as a steward of the team, company, etc.  With this comes a responsibility to provide solutions, ideas, opinions that they think will improve the organization and take it to the next level.  Not just fight the fires their own leadership points them towards.

Now I understand that in some cases individuals take on the manager mantel because they wanted to make a little more cash and promoting to the next level was the only option to do so in their current situation,  But many more take on this role because they want to take on new challenges and responsibilities within their organization.  The disheartening part is when they don’t take the opportunity to exercise this new influence.  Maybe its due to fear of their ideas being rejected or the risk of being punished for pointing out something their leadership doesn’t want highlighted.  But with leadership responsibility comes an added level of risk.  If your goal is to be an effective leader this means you have to be willing to take a chance to do what is right.

So managers out there, always remember that your title is just another term for leader and with that comes the expectation to lead.  So, step up to the plate when opportunities are presented to make a difference and don’t be a wallflower.  Heck even if your title isn’t manager or supervisor you can still exercise this by being a thought leader.  Your organization needs you!  Even if it doesn’t realize it sometimes!

About the author: Heath

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  1. Deborah Stone - July 16, 2013 at 6:23 AM Reply

    Well said and spot on!

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