Congratulations, you’re now a leader – part two

Congratulations, you’re a leader – part two

Part one of being a leader talked about implicit leadership theories, and what you think of when you think of being a leader.

That’s important – so you know what you equate with being a leader and leadership. And also what other people might be thinking about leadership.

This matters when you’re trying to find your voice and be heard on issues that matter to you.

Unpicking leadership means that you go into it with eyes wide open, rather than with rose coloured glasses.

Leadership for the Disillusioned

It might sound funny – but looking at the conventional wisdoms around leadership, and then questioning those wisdoms, is a really good starting point in your leadership journey.

Amanda Sinclair in Leadership for the Disillusioned questions many of the conventional wisdoms around leadership.

It’s an interesting read, if only that it can start your journey on understanding “what is leadership”. What is a leader?

Here are just some of the examples she lists in her 2007 book:

Conventional wisdoms

Critical alternatives
Leadership is a good thing Leadership can be a bad thing
Purposes such as growth, efficiency, global expansion and dominance are assumed, not questioned, as goals of leadership Purposes are questioned, asking who or what leadership is for
Leadership as a single-handed heroic performance that is:

  • The property of the individual
  • Ahistorical
  • Decontextualized

Eg. Military leadership


Leadership is socially constructed
Ascension into leadership is a matter of experience, training and mentoring Leadership arises from backgrounds and how we respond to appetites and hunger
Focus on the positive qualities that leaders need – eg– humility and resolve Exploration of dark sides – eg – narcissism and grandiosity

She lists many more – but it’s a good starting point to start thinking about this. When we think of leaders like Hitler, or indeed more recent examples – the positive rose coloured view of leaders and leadership just doesn’t hold up.

And yet, that doesn’t negate the fact that leadership was indeed what they were enacting.

Post heroic

I especially like her suggestion that leadership no longer needs to be thought of as one person – the hero – saving the world. Rather, leadership is socially constructed.

It takes the pressure off being the person with the cape, swooping in to save the organisation. Instead, it asks us to look at what leadership means within each context. How is each one of us contributing to that context? How do our followers contribute?

Key Takeaways

  • What conventional wisdoms do you ascribe to when it comes to leadership?
  • And do those wisdoms stand up to scrutiny in the cold light of day?
  • Do they stand up to scrutiny against those that were undoubtably leaders, just not of the positive kind!
  • What does this mean for the sort of leader you want to be?

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See you next week.

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