We’ve been talking a lot about leadership in the office recently, in part because we’ve been reviewing and updating the great module, Leadership Identikit, which examines the difference between leadership and management.
I was thinking about those conversations again at the weekend when, for the first time in my life, I joined a protest march, becoming one of the huge mass of people who marched through London in support of a People’s Vote on Brexit. (I know - contentious subject, but bear with me!)
I say march; the crowd was so huge that it was more a sort of collective shuffle. My partner and I shuffled for four hours with men and women of all ages, from all corners of the UK. Many had brought their children – some had even brought their dogs and there was an extraordinary carnival atmosphere. It was entirely peaceful.
Not all of you will agree with the march, or its cause – I respect that. Many will be wishing the whole topic of Brexit would just go away – and I can definitely empathise with that!
But, it's estimated that over one million people did attend, and in some cases, went to extraordinary lengths to get there.
So, why were so many people motivated to do something that, perhaps like me, they’d never done before?
It was this question that brought me back to the discussions we’ve been having about leadership and management. Managers:
• Rely on legitimate power to achieve results. • Ensure the stability of the system. • Control conditions and others. • Implement changes in reaction to events.
• Create a sense of energy and momentum. • Inspire people with a vision and a sense of purpose. • Motivate and empower others to achieve results. • Proactively create change.
These latter four are the reasons I was there, and I suspect the same is true of others. And indeed, the same is probably true of those marching at Nigel Farage’s behest from Sunderland to London.
Managers can of course, be leaders, but leadership has nothing to do with status. Leadership is about an ability to communicate authentically and articulate a vision in a way that makes it accessible to others. On Saturday, people were marching because of well-known leaders like Chuka Umunna, Sadiq Kahn and Nicola Sturgeon. But many were there because of lesser-known leaders, like Jack Dart.
My final thought for today is this:
People follow leaders, and in the absence of leadership from the top, others will always step in to fill that void, whether that’s a team, organisation, or, indeed, a country.
Until next time...
p.s., Our newly updated course module, The Leadership Identikit in Trainers' Library, encourages participants to explore in greater depth the differences between Leadership and Management - and could be a vital component in your Leadership Development Programmes!