We need a culture where when we see a leadership moment, we need to stop recognize, applaud, and celebrate the person who exhibited it
Everyone is a leader”. We have seen this statement so many times that we have all begun to believe it. For a while now HR, senior business executives, management gurus and OD Consultants have spent considerable intellectual time distinguishing the characteristics of managers and leaders and creating a list of attributes that define leadership.
In organizations, HR and OD practitioners published lists of competencies and leadership profiles for employees to be measured as part of the annual performance management process. The result is a good start – Teams, business groups and entire organizations all have plenty of leaders who check items off the competency checklist. We have begun to fundamentally change the language we use and call our upline managers - “leaders”. Even if we do call them as managers, the N+2 or N+3 are often referred to as leaders. This is a good start and definitely does create a culture and message for making a strong and developing pipeline of leaders.
We are missing one key factor though. What we are missing is leadership. As Michael Jordan once said “Earn your leadership everyday”.
We need to take a step back and remind ourselves that leaders need to be learning and earning their leadership every day. Leadership moments are recognized after an event has occurred when teams step back and say “now that was good leadership”. Every day, leading other people evolves in our life experiences in ways that we may not realize. Sometimes we may not remember our leadership of other people. We may have influenced someone and the reality is that we may forget a moment of influence completely. On the other hand, those we have helped or encouraged never forget our actions and remember our leadership moment. I would encourage all readers to watch a brilliant TEDx Talk by Drew Dudley who talks about everyday leadership in just over six minutes.
Do we not say leaders “Do the right things” while managers “do things right”? Do we spend enough time on helping employees reflect on the “right things” and reflecting on what has been done?
So here is a task for organizational HR – Help your company celebrate leadership every day.
It is critical for HR to work with business executives to create an environment where we celebrate leadership continuously. It is easy to feel discouraged when an employee feels that s/he are doing the right things, but don’t see the reward right away. Employee recognition and appreciation programs don’t do enough and usually focus on performance-metric driven recognitions; instead they should focus on the leadership moments.
This is where everyday leadership recognition comes in. Let us ensure that we do recognize the “early adopter”, “the change influencer or enabler”, “the energy creator”, “the motivator”, “the team glue”, “the brilliant workaround idea to a problem” and all other leadership moments for demonstrating leadership skills as and when that happens. We can all do a better job of helping our business executives and managers in calling out those leadership moments. We need a culture where when we see a leadership moment, we need to stop recognize, applaud, and celebrate the person who exhibited it. The power of encouraging this is not just higher engagement of employees but also the creation of true everyday leadership. This is when we see “everyone is a leader”.
Remember “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it is amazing what they can accomplish” – Sam Walton. Here is the HR imperative – let us take a leadership role in helping everyone celebrate everyday leadership.