Leading without Leading: The new direction (or lack of it) in Leadership.

Leading without Leading: The new direction (or lack of it) in Leadership.







It is estimated that there were about ten million books written and published in the world in the last year.

It is also estimated, that of those ten million books published, around 9,999,000 were on the topic of leadership. The rest were diet books, sporting biographies and gardening books.

And just check out some of these Leadership titles:

  • How to lead, When to lead, Who to lead, Why to lead – all your leadership questions answered;
  • The 45690 qualities of great leaders;
  • The ten top tips of being a tip top leader;
  • The Dancing leader;
  • Leadership Lessons from Aliens;
  • Learn to lead a listed company in 3 minutes or double your money back;
  • You can’t spell leader without “e”;
  • How to lead by Singing;
  • Homer Simpson’s Guide to Leadership;
  • How Wombat’s lead;
  • Leadership – the new black;
  • Quantum physics and the new leadership: what electrons know about leadership;
  • You can’t lead generation X, Y and Z without starting with the A.B.C.s and some D.I.Y.s;
  • Great military leadership models and how driving a tank through the office makes you the boss;
  • L.E.A.D. – Lead by Eating Apples and Dieting.

Any many many more.

It seems like everyone is writing a book about leading, leaders, leadership, taking the lead, being a leader, teaching leaders, coaching leaders, growing leaders, leading from the front, leading from the back, leading from the side, leading from below, leading leaders, learning lessons from leaders and leading from the lead.

The funny thing is: leadership, as we know it, no longer exists. We are killing off millions of trees, destroying the rain-forests and increasing global warming to produce the paper to write about leadership but we are writing about something that is no longer relevant.

Leadership has changed – and changed at such an alarming rate that it probably needs a new name.

Seeing as no one has been smart enough to come up with one just yet, let’s give “Leading without Leading” a go.

Leadership in this century is about not leading. It’s being yourself.

Leading now is not about following a model or a script or a clever training course or learning ten lessons in effective leadership. It’s about you.

The greatest asset to any organisation is having thinking, creative, innovative individuals who are passionate about learning, growing and developing as human beings.

If they work together as a team – great.

If they can recite the company Mission Statement, Values, Virtues and sing the company Theme Song in perfect harmony – fantastic.

But how terrific would it be to have every person, every individual, every unique human being, working to their full potential, enjoying what they do, doing what they do with passion and energy and more importantly, unleashing their own brand of genius to enhance the performance of your organisation?

It’s time that we smashed a lot of the old leadership stuff – all the old stuff that we believed were modern leadership “must haves”:

  • Mission statements……….gone!
  • Corporate values lists…….exploded!
  • Motivation lectures.…….extinct!
  • Leadership modelling.……dead and buried!
  • Systems based organisations………….you have to go!
  • Team building………crashed and burnt!
  • Culture development.……..ka-boom!
  • Change Management processes.………shot through the heart.

Organisations are people.

People with unique needs. People with unique attitudes. People with unique identities. People with unique motivations. People from different cultures – some of them with different languages and faiths.

The most important three things you need to make your organisation successful are all the same – people, people, people.

The reason why training programs and courses and workshops and breakouts and lectures do not work is that they do not provide for the uniqueness in your people to be expressed or engaged, let alone enhanced, exhilarated and exalted.

The key to creating a more effective organisation is to encourage, embrace and enthusiastically unleash the unlimited power and genius inside everyone who works there.

This is the new leadership.

Where leaders once lectured, they now listen.

Where leaders once enforced, they now engage and empower.

Where leaders once trained others, they now grow with them.

Where leaders once politicised, they now partner.

Where leaders once disciplined, they now discover what people really need.

Where leaders once took responsibility, they now share it.

Where leaders once indoctrinated, they now innovate.

Where leaders once implemented rigid systems, they now create opportunities to enhance them.

Where leaders once created, they now provide the environment and opportunity for their people to be creative collaboratively.

Everyone can, and will, lead in their own way and utilise the talent and gifts they possess – given the right opportunity and environment and a lot of trust, faith and belief.

The sales rep talking with clients is leading the organisation as she talks about products and services.

The receptionist talking to people as they phone or walk in the front door is leading the organisation as he meets and greets them.

The old guy opening and closing the security gates at the entrance to the company car park is leading the organisation as he welcomes guests and directs them to a space.

They are leading the organisation –in the same sense that the General Manager makes decisions about company programs, the Chairman of the Board leads a discussion on company strategies and the Head Accountant decides how to best manage the company budget.

Everyone leads – in their own way and in a way which releases their full potential.

Once you stop looking at leadership as a role for senior management and something only a few gifted people can possess; once you stop believing this “leaders are born” rubbish and stop trying to make everyone fit into some mythical perfect leadership model that you read about in a book on your last flight – once you make a real commitment to unleash the potential in EVERYONE in the organisation, then you will be unstoppable.

Wayne Goldsmith

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