The Leadership Myth – I

Hello All, it’s a wonderful feeling to be alive this first Friday of September 2019!! The tribute song “September” by Kirk Franklin is booming in the background as I write today.

So in a blink of an eye, we are LIVE in Q4 ( the “EMBER” months) & in a few days we will welcome the year 2020.

As usual, how are you doing in the light of your goals & targets set earlier in the year? Are you on track or off? No matter the situation dont give up on yourself now, you have all it takes to make it on your inside & you will get to cross the line, it’s just a matter of time.

We would like to sincerely appreciate everyone who has joined this train, who reads our posts, follows this blog, makes comments & share these posts with others. You, all are the reason we are still here.

The “Cultivating A Growth Mindset” series is by far the longest we’ve embarked on since the inception of this blog & we are currently at the point of discussing the Leadership Myth.

It’s taken this long & it lends credence to the fact that changing of a mindset is the most difficult thing to do (especially when the subject is still in denial about the need for change)

To catch-up on this topic, please click the link below:

THE LEADERSHIP MYTH

We tried to bust the very first myth about leadership ( Another blogger reached out to me on this, she writes about myth busters & we just clicked), which is:

Leaders are born not made

Everyone is born with the innate gift to lead, rule & reign (Gen 1: 28), however that potential needs to be worked on, refined & brought out.

That takes process & time which is really the art of making something. Nothing of real value is on the surface, Gold, Diamond & Precious Stones are buried deep down in the belly of the earth & it takes work to get it out & make it look awesome.

So don’t condemn yourself, if you are not there yet, everyone is a leader & you have your audience & circle of influence waiting on you to display your giftings, please don’t let them down.

As previously stated, I’ve been reading since last month the book of Dr. Alex Ihama titled “The Mystique of Leadership (How to become an exceptional Leader) & it just gels with the leadership myth topic in the series.

Let’s look at the next myth:

Having a position makes you a leader!!

This is another major myth, I’ve seen over the years of studying people in position authority that it’s not the position that makes the leader, the leader makes the position. You see instances of people forcing themselves on others on the basis of their position, making them comply to orders, instructions & directives.

Looking at the 5 levels of leadership ( by John C. Maxwell), it’s the base level of leadership. I call it baby step leadership, everyone starts from there but if you remain there after a while, then you become a dictator & a bully.

Those who remain in Level 1 do not think of those who report to them as team members or colleagues —rather, they consider them their subordinates or slaves.

A level 1 leader will find it very difficult to manage volunteers, young people, highly intelligent & highly educated people.

I think it was Steve Jobs that said “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do.”

Looking at the practical skills required to be a leader, we mentioned 2 previously :

  1. Reward & Encourage learning through trial & error
  2. Learn to grow into your role as a leader

The next skill is

Third, learn as you go and don’t wait for all the answers

If you wait until you know exactly what you’re doing before you feel confident in leading others and projects, you’ll never be ready.

The key is to learn as you go, figuring out next steps along the way.

I love a portion of Maya Angelou’s poem it says “Let your fall be part of your dance” Dont wait for the perfect time or season, just do it anyway, do it scared but do it nonetheless!!

I’ve led a couple of successful teams & projects that at the start I didn’t have a clue on how to get it done, but I just started it anyway with a high level of articulation & confidence that the clients or my managers think I’ve got it all figured out. I am the only one in the room that know that i’m quacking in my boots. In project management it’s called Progressive Elaboration

Fourth, ask others for feedback

If you want to get better at anything, you need to seek the perspective of others. You want to know how you come across, what you do well, and where you could develop as a leader.

Feedback is a great developmental tool & if used very well can produce awesome results. As an Engineer, in control systems I was taught about open loop & close loop systems.

An open loop control system acts completely on the basis of input and the output has no effect on the control action. – A closed loop control system considers the current output and alters it to the desired condition.

The control action in these systems is based on the output & the main aspect of a closed loop control system is FEEDBACK

I do this regularly & also encourage my team members to do same, in fact I sometimes ask other colleagues outside my team for feedback about myself or a member of my team strictly for developmental purpose & not for appraisals.

This is the reason why some organizations adopt the 360 degree appraisal strategy. This will only work in an environment that allows openness, void of prejudice & toxicity.

Fifth, be flexible and adaptable in your approach

Get comfortable with changing your opinions and direction to achieve results.

I am a stickler for process, procedure & all of that, however I also realize the need to be flexible & adaptable. It seems confusing for a lot of people around me as sometimes I stubbornly stick to the process & other times I just let things slide without saying a word.

I love this quote from Dr Mike Murdock, he says “Wisdom is the ability to recognize differences”. I see differences on a regular basis & I tend not to deal with 2 situations the same way ( even if the look similar), I dig deep to see the uniqueness as all projects are.

Telling others you won’t always have the answers and you’re open to new ideas and opinions that may shape the strategy you choose will positively impact how your team see you.

It will also empower your team to know they can help you to shape the strategy. As you know, leaders are made, not born. You don’t have to be a natural leader. You just need to use the principles that will help you to develop and lead with a growth mindset.

My alarm just went off now, signals it’s time to go….Allow me drop the gist now & we will surely catch-up soon.

Are you still a Level 1 leader?

What are you doing practically to move your leadership to the next level?

What leadership skills are you grooming?

This is another long snippet …….. I AM SHALOMESQ

The Leadership Myth

Hello wonderful family & welcome to the 1st Friday & 2nd day in the 8th month of the year 2019. It’s a beginning of another fantastic month that is fixing to be exciting as we kick-on into Q3.

As always I’ll like to know how far you are on the path to reaching your goals & targets for 2019? If you are on-track, well done!! Keep pushing until that finish line. If off-track, re-assess yourself, identify what went wrong, make corrections & get back on-track, keep on keeping on!!! You are not far from the end.

Even though I am still working out of station, I’ve fully readjusted my routine to align & things are going smoothly now. The last couple of days has been a bit emotional for me as I was given the privilege to attend a vendor’s exhibition event for all players in my industry – Telecommunications- and it was great seeing old faces & reconnecting. I’ve had the privilege of working in the industry for the past 18 years or so & started as part of the pioneer engineers in the country at that time.

One thing I took away from the experience is the fact that people will remember you for good or evil based on the impact you have on their lives during the times they interacted with you & also that you don’t have to be in a leadership position to lead, influence & impact lives. I am super grateful for the experience & this takes a special place in my heart.

Coincidentally, based on my blog schedule, today’s post is meant to be on Leadership Myth which is the continuation of our “Cultivating A Growth Mindset series. It’s interesting how things just pan out & work together for good.

GREEK MYTHOLOGY

I was introduced to Greek mythology when a was a child while reading books from my father’s huge library & I still remember the 1st story I read about “Jason & the Golden Fleece” & then the classic 1981 movie “Clash of the Titans“. Zeus ( God of the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order, and justice) is the Leader & King of the Greek Gods who ruled from Mount Olympus. There is a whole catalog of documents & videos on this topic which you can dive into if you are interested in such, for me I was really fascinated.

LEADERSHIP

I recently started reading a book by Alex Ihama titled “The Mystique of Leadership (How to become an exceptional Leader)” & this all tied nicely together with everything that has been happening to me & the recent experience I shared earlier.

I have been a student of Leadership, Strategy & Warfare tactics & History for a while & have studied & learnt from Iconic Leaders like Jesus Christ, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Obafemi Awolowo, Nndamdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Barak Obama, John C. Maxwell, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Miles Munroe, Olubi Johnson, Tunde Bakare & a host of others, so I was super excited when I got to this topic in the series & we are going to spend a while here.

LEADERSHIP MYTH

According to Dr. Roberts ( The facilitator of the Growth Mindset Course on LinkedIn Learning), when it comes to creating leaders, research shows those with a growth mindset show far more potential than those with a fixed mindset. It’s such an important part of successful leadership that organizations like Microsoft invest heavily in helping leaders to create a growth mindset.

This is because it’s an essential ingredient in reaching potential, stretching current abilities, and creating high-performing teams. In fact, one of the key goals of Satya Nadella who is the CEO of Microsoft is to transform Microsoft’s culture into that which values and rewards continual learning and growth.

Now, there is a leadership myth that you may have heard. Leaders are born, not made. This concept means you either naturally have the capability and skill to be a leader or you don’t. This kind of thinking is opposite to developing a growth mindset. And actually, research has completely debunked this idea. Some people may find it easier than others to step into a leadership role, but everyone has the ability to develop and hone leadership skills. There are key skills you need to be a good leader.

Arguably, the most important being utilizing a growth rather than fixed mindset when leading. What does creating a growth mindset as a leader look like in practice? There are some key principles:

First, reward and encourage learning through trial and error.

When leading projects, teams, and developments, you won’t always start out with the best solution so testing and trialing approaches is important. The key focus should be on encouraging and rewarding smart risks whether they succeed or not especially if they yield insights that can help the business to move forward.

Earlier in my career, I worked with a company that had this culture.

Failure wasn’t fatal, it was treated as a lesson so it helped build up confidence in our abilities as engineers & solution architects to recover from any situation, we were given the chance to develop a growth mindset.

I remember days that we will be in the WAR ROOM trying to resolve challenges related to the launch of the network whether it was due to a fault of an individual or the entire team.

It was ONE for ALL & ALL for ONE!!

The confidence reposed in us by our Line Manger, Head of Division, GM, CTO & CEO was so great that we broke a lot of barriers & became firsts at a lot of things. Sadly, it seems that company is still the only place in the industry that kept & nurtured that culture even after 14 years of my departure.

All other places have treated failure as fatal & during times challenging time, the hatchet is out looking for whose head to cut off.

This has developed a defensive mindset in people, so no one is willing to take risks & they just settle for mediocrity not knowing that with great risk comes great reward.

At Pixar Animations, President Ed Catmull has created a culture that not only accepts mistakes and failures, but actually celebrates them.

Second, learn to grow into your role as a leader.

As time passes, you’ll learn more about the kind of leader you are and the kind of leader you want to be. No one wakes up one day as a leader with all the skills, vision, and abilities they’re ever going to require.

With a growth mindset, you’ll be continually learning and developing as a leader. And that’s the positive and humble way to create leadership success.

I have worked with different types of managers & leaders over the course of my career & believe me there are many flavors out there, THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY & I’ve gleaned ( and still gleaning) lessons from ALL of them on what to do ( or not do) as a leader.

PREVIOUS POSTS ON LEADERSHIP

Over the last 4 ( going to 5) years of this blog, I have written a few posts related to Leadership & It would be great at this point to reference some of the links below for your catching up.

Be a Leader, Be a Boss!!

Leadership & Work Ethics Series

Criteria for Leadership

Cultivating Leadership Skills in our Kids Series

The leadership growth journey is summarized below based on John C. Maxwell’s principle & book “The 5 Levels of Leadership“:

LEVEL 1- POSITION

It’s the lowest level of leadership and considered the entry level to the leadership ladder. Maxwell points out that just because someone is a boss does not necessarily mean they are leadersand those people will not get past level one. They do not think of those who report to them as team members—rather, they consider them their subordinates.

Because of this, they hold rules, regulations, and policies up on a pedestal, using them to control the people who report to them. The only reason people follow level one leaders is that they have to, and they follow them only so far as they must.

Because it is entry-level, the position does not require any particular effort or ability. Any person can be placed in the position of level one leadership, so anyone seeking to become an influential leader must seek to advance past this level.

A level-one leader will have difficulty influencing volunteers, younger people, and the highly educated.

LEVEL 2 – PERMISSION

As the first level requiring effort to obtain, level two marks someone’s rise to leadership. This level leads to people following because they are compelled to by something more than following orders or a job description. The reason for this is that there is a relationship between the leader and those reporting to the leader. This fosters an environment where people feel that their leader values and trusts them. They start to work together with their leader.

The leader is no longer in charge of subordinates, but rather begins to act as a point person for a team of equals.

LEVEL 3 – PRODUCTION

This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. In this analogy, the leaders are the wheat and those who do nothing more than occupy positions of leadership are the chaff. Strong leaders get results and impact an organization. They have the ability to be productive individually and to inspire their team to be productive. In order to reach level three, leaders must have self-discipline and work ethic. They must possess organizational skills.

At this level, leaders are starting to develop an influential reputation because of their relationships with others and because of their production. It is important to keep building relationships—reaching a higher level of leadership does not grant permission to neglect the skills that brought one to previous levels. As the level three leader produces, momentum builds and not only does the bottom line improve, but so does morale.

The team is able to meet more goals and turnover decreases. This is also the level when leading becomes fun for the leader, too.

LEVEL 4 – PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT

At level four, the leader begins to shift from focusing on personal and corporate production to building other leaders. Great leadership begets great leaders—people are an organization’s most valuable asset and also its most appreciable asset because, with the guidance of a level-four leader, others can begin their journey through the levels of leadership as well. Level-four leaders spend only about 20 percent of their time focused on personal productivity. The rest of their energy is devoted to building other leaders.

Work on this level requires that leaders learn to delegate, which can be difficult for more hands-on types. The relationships developed at this stage are often lifelong.

LEVEL 5 – PINNACLE

At the fifth and final level, reside the leaders who have led other leaders to level four. It is rare to find a level-five leader because reaching this level requires much skill as well as natural leadership abilities. Level-five leaders are legacy-makers. Success seems to follow in the wake of pinnacle leaders, and it may look effortless to those outside of the leadership levels. Their influence is transcendental. It is rare to find a level-five leader who is not advanced in his or her career as well. This level is a great opportunity for leaders to make changes outside of their organization and even outside of their industry.

Unlike levels one through four, which can be achieved through hard work, skill building, and relationship building, level five requires an innate talent for leadership.

We will continue on the other myths in the coming posts….. Stay tunned

What leadership myths do you have?

Are leaders born or made?

What level of leadership are you on?

This is my (long) snippet …….. I AM SHALOMESQ