KARIN ZASTROW

blogging about DIRECT LEADERSHIP

As leaders, who do we lead?

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This morning I read an article about leadership. In this case one about the challenges of western leaders working in China, but it had a characteristic in common with almost any article or book on the topic of leadership.

While professing to debate leadership in a generic sense, every example and every quote still referred only to situations relating to CEO’s and their interaction with their subordinate managers.

Somehow the top manager’s interaction with his executives is mistaken for being the essential aspect of leadership in an organisation. In this morning’s article one CEO was even quoted for saying that he knew that an altogether different management style was practised by his managers in relation to the staff without managerial responsibilities, but he saw no need to interfere with this.

This is not unusual. Most executives demonstrate little if at all any interest in the nature of the leadership practised throughout the organisation. It seems like there is a sort of territorial I-will-not-interfere-in-how-you-manage-on-your-turf going on. (And yet they wonder why change is so hard to achieve).

The truth is, that the real everyday leadership takes place between the managers and their non-managerial employees. Any executive who – consciously or not – ignores to pay attention to how the leader’s job is interpreted and carried out throughout his organisation is mismanaging his own responsibility.

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