A couple of weeks ago I challenged the statement "Strong leadership is dependent on employee engagement." It seemed to me that it put the cart before the horse. Certainly employee engagement is dependent on strong leadership but the opposite? Well, both my own thinking and some of the responses in the various forums where I posed the question, showed that it depended on the definition of leadership. Despite my fundamental philosophy I had fallen into the trap of equating leadership with authority!
If people are taking responsibility for their own lives then they are showing leadership and this is certainly dependent on their engagement. That is why it is called "distributed leadership" when everyone in an organisational shows such initiative, and why employee engagement is such a hot issue. And creating distributed leadership and employee engagement is of course what Zealise is all about. So it was extremely galling to realise that I had been guilty of such a limited view of leadership. All I can say in my defence is that it shows just how deeply embedded in our psyche this concept of leaders as figures of authority is. So how do we break out of it?
Well for me part of the answer came in a book, "The Leader Who Had No Title" by Robin Sharma. I do not propose to write a review of the book here. Suffice to say that I found it totally inspiring and something that I would heartily recommend to anyone - and everyone! Perhaps quoting a few of the statements that struck such chord with me will help you understand.
"Personal energy is the single most valuable asset in business today."
"Potential unrealised turns to pain"
"Being extraordinary in your work is one of the key secrets of happiness."
"Life is too big to play small."
"Being great at business is all about a glorious focus on people."
"An unbeatable organisation is really nothing more than a series of great relationships."
"An excellent organisation is really just a cluster of people showing personal excellence in all they do."
However, the statement that sums it all up best is probably this one: "There's only one way a business will win in this new world we're in ... growing and developing the leadership talent of every person throughout the organisation faster than the competition."
Of course you're not surprised that this resonates with me. After all it is my perpetual theme. You may, however, be wondering where the synchronicity comes in? Well if there isn't enough for you in the timing of this book, how about this article in Think BIg magazine "Work as Self Expression" which landed on my desk only this morning? Clearly this is an idea whose time has come and we are not alone in trying to create a workplace that better meets the world's needs.