Leadership practices often aim to convey a sense of personal value to those being led. Leaders make efforts to ensure that followers feel valued by them. It seems though, that these practices are used to communicate a sense of value greater than that which actually exists within the leader. A leader doesn’t actually have to believe the message being communicated by the principles he practices, he only has to practice the principles that communicate the message he feels will best motivate workers. This is not true leadership but simply a method of management that utilizes leadership principles. There is no focus on individuals’ intrinsic value, only their usefulness to the organization. Here, leadership techniques to communicate a sense of value are only used because they are known to produce results. This faux leadership will only maintain credibility for so long before followers can see right through it. It is only a matter of time before situations begin to expose the true heart of the manager.
So what is the difference between true leadership and management by leadership principles? The value the leader actually has for followers, not the value he communicates. Faux leaders use leadership principles out of a desire to better their organizations. True leaders use leadership principles out of a desire to better their followers. These goals are not exclusive but the second is necessary to true leadership and cannot be overshadowed by the first.
Have you ever found yourself employing leadership principles to communicate a sense of value to people in your organization higher than the actual value you have for them?
Have you ever found yourself more interested in the leadership texts on your bookshelf than the individuals in your office?
I think we all practice faux leadership at times. It would be naive to think that we are 100% genuine, 100% of the time. Now, we must admit that we do, learn to recognize specific situations in which we are, and seek a sense of value for others so high that we couldn’t fake it if we wanted to.
[Note: In a previous post I discussed the need for management techniques in leadership. My thoughts here are in no way in opposition to that post. The need is for leaders who employ management techniques to better their leadership, not managers who employ leadership technique to better their management.]