Don Campbell argues that it is high time companies rejectedthe idea of leadership being exclusive to the top end of an organisationThere has been talk and editorial on the knotty subject of leadership incountless journals and boardrooms on both sides of the Atlantic for years. Andyet, the need for more dialogue on the subject never wanes. With constant changes occurring in the dynamics of the typical workplace,the playing field never stays level for long. Women assume ever-greatersignificance at all levels in the workplace, economies boom and bust,technologies spawn new industries and skills, mergers and acquisitions prevailover erstwhile-established teams – the world is ever-changing. Consequently, the ‘rules’ and best practices of leadership are constantlyfalling under the latest business-school and journalistic scrutiny.Muchevidence points to organisations failing to embrace the true concept ofeffective leadership – to nurture and harness their talents so that thecollective attributes of a team can be developed to an organisation’s maximumpotential. But what exactly do we mean by leadership? The most common misconception is that leadership is exclusive to the seniorranks of an organisation. People at the top often find themselves under firefor not displaying the types of qualities traditionally associated withleadership. But any ‘failure’ invariably has more to do with excessive reliance on thoseat the top, and insufficient mettle and leadership elsewhere in theorganisation – where leadership counts most on a day-to-day basis. Leadership is as much about personal influence as it is about command andcontrol, and therefore as much an upwards and sideways process as it is adownward one. Drive and guidance from the top is essential, but unless this isreflected throughout an organisation, even the most inspirational top-downideas will have little chance of success. Broader definition Leadership requires a broader definition than the capacity to persuadeothers to follow your command. It is more about the ability to influence, guideand direct those around us with honesty, integrity, sensitivity and courage –regardless of business or social setting. Unless a person knows and takes to heart the real impact of their own innatebehaviour on others – a short fuse for example, or indeed an excessively longone – the capacity to moderate or adapt behaviour in the interest of effectiveinfluence becomes all the more difficult. Examining the culture of leadershipin more detail, it is necessary to look closely at the three directions ofleadership and the personal qualities each requires. With downward leadership, the ability to motivate, inspire and focus isinvaluable. The crux of sideways leadership is to be effective, and the abilityto influence peers through credibility and personal power is imperative. A successful combination of talent, ability and personality is the best wayof achieving sideways influence. Upwards leadership Upwards leadership works when senior managers possess the truth of asituation, rather than information used to help everybody to feel better ormake life easier for them or employees. This takes courage and sensitivity andan appreciation of what it is like to be in the other person’s position. Good upward leadership involves taking the pressure off managers and helpingto make their sometimes-difficult decisions easier. Everyone, regardless oftheir level, has the capacity and the responsibility to lead. The key is tounlock that potential. This is where effective leadership development courses can make all thedifference. During the course of a few days, preconceptions are challenged, and actions,behaviour and attitudes questioned. This will provide delegates with a solidfoundation to learn and move forward from as confident, competent leaders. These are all commonly referred to as ‘soft skills’. During our careers,truly effective development in these areas is probably the most difficult (andrewarding) learning curve that we ever embark upon. Making a leaderOn 1 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.