The art of not seeking in leadership
As people go through life, they are surrounded by social mirrors that constantly compare them to others — academically and economically.
They build their security on the comparisons, robbing themselves of their true identity. Many leaders feel that they are unsuccessful by external standards, so they are unhappy of heart. They focus too much on impressing others and positioning themselves to climb the career ladder, rather than looking inward to measure their success both as a human and a leader. Leaders too often seek for more influence, more power and more position. But continuous seeking implies that leaders are never connected within themselves, being out of touch with their surroundings and lacking orientation. Making organisations more innovative, responsive and responsible requires focusing on a number of leadership, power and influence issues.
Power is the basic energy that is needed to initiate and sustain action. It is the opportunity to build, create and nudge history in a different direction. To put it plainly, power is a relationship between people in which one person can get another person to do something that they would not otherwise have done. Leaders can therefore use power to bring about the particular outcomes they desire.
Power is attractive because it confers the ability to influence decisions, about who gets what resources, what goals are pursued, what philosophy the organisation adopts, what actions are taken, who succeeds and who fails. Power also gives a sense of control over outcomes, and may in fact convey such enhanced control. Particularly as decision issues become more complex and outcomes become more uncertain, power becomes more attractive as a tool for reducing uncertainty within the company.
An important question is why do leaders want or need to be ambitious? Why do people feel that they need to succeed at all cost to be somebody? Leaders are preoccupied with power.
The important questions, however, are:
Through what means do they go to gain it?
To what extent do they exercise it?
Power and the ability to use it are essential to effective leadership. Strategic leaders who are uncomfortable with either the presence of great power in others or its use by themselves are probably going to fail their organisations at some point. The critical issue is why the leader seeks power and how it is used.
Some see power as a tool to enhance their ability to facilitate the work of their organisations and groups. Others value power for its own sake, and exercise power for the personal satisfaction it brings. There can be good and bad in both cases. However, the leader who uses power in the service of his organisation is using power in the most constructive sense. The leader who seeks power for his own sake and for personal satisfaction will compromise his ethical position, risk his organisation's effectiveness, and perhaps even jeopardize the long-term viability of the organisation. Self-serving leaders are not as effective because their employees only obey them, not follow them. They succeed in many areas because they present a good image to their seniors – but at the expense of their workers.
An important question is whether leaders can afford NOT to seek? Good leaders are made and not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leadership entails developing through a never-ending process of self-study, education and training. If leaders want to inspire their workers into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things they need to BE, DO and KNOW. Good leaders continuously need to work and study to improve their leadership skills.
It is followers, not leaders, who determine if a leader is successful. If employees do not trust their leader, they will also be uninspired. To be successful, leaders have to convince their followers, and not themselves or their superiors, that they are worthy of being followed.