Where have all the leaders gone?

I know that there had been a long standing debate on the difference between a manager and a leader, and I don’t dispute that managerial and leadership qualities are mutually exclusive.

Most importantly, in the ideal world, we should have a leader who can manage.

The world is not ideal. So, let’s face it. Will the real leader, please stand up!

I remember a long time ago, when we were kids. Whenever we get together to play, there is always that “someone” who calls the shot. “I get to be this and you’ll have to do that”. No, I’m not referring to playground bullying. I’m referring to leadership qualities in its simplest form.

Where had that gone to?

Today, we put people in leadership positions for various different reasons. In fact, various wrong reasons. For one, seniority is the biggest culprit. Next on the list would be the person’s performance in his current role.

When can we get this right? The role of a leader is…

“To lead”

Does he have to be the oldest serving employee in the department? No.
Does he have to have the best sales performance in the team? It would be good to have, but still “No”.
Does he have to be the best marketing genius or the shrewdest accountant? That’ll be nice, but still “No”.

So, who is this person that can lead us?

He needs to be someone who understands the business, the environment, the industry, its competition, the trends and everything from where the revenue will come from to where the expenses are going to.

He has to be a strong business person with a shrewd acumen for business. He has to see change before others. He must have the guts to go where no one has been before, to take the uncharted route. To be a pace setter.

In all that, we have someone who’ll stand in from of all others, points in a single direction, and tell the rest, “That’s where we are going”.

In that, he must be able to pull the people around him to march towards that direction with one heart.

And very importantly, listen to its people and command their respect.

That is a leader.

What about managing the resources? The logistics, costs of operations and many other little little details of getting there?

That’s what the managers are for! Right?

By the way, isn’t the leader supposed to rally those people around him as well.

Let’s start to put the right people on the right job.

Eric Wong