She says to me, “I don’t think of managers as leaders; I think leadership is for the ‘Executives’.”
Ugh. How does this happen?
“Well, that’s exactly my point. If non-leaders are in management roles, won’t they be inclined to value and promote those who are most like themselves?”, and I’m starting to get worked up. ”They perpetuate their own mediocrity! They breed incompetence and fail associates’ careers along the way! That is a great responsibility!”
For a little added drama I slide up to the edge of my seat and ask, “Why wouldn’t you insist upon having leaders in management positions? How do your associates ever learn to be leaders if they have no leadership themselves?”, and I throw my hands up in the air. ”I just don’t get how this happens!”
And I realize that this perspective is one I have not considered. I also realize it is an obvious miss, so I am a little irritated, too. ”Blog it.”, I think.
Perpetuating Mediocrity. Breeding Incompetence. Failing, if you ask me.
I point out to her that the one guy she has worked for in all of her years, the only one she looks up to as a leader, has had such an impact on her because he inspires her – because he is the only leader in all of her experiences…and that the others were not.”
His leadership inspired her. He invigorated her career goals, her excitement about her work, and her willingness to get outside of her comfort zone. She was a different person during the time she worked for him. She was more than a satisfied associate, she was an engaged and loyal associate. She seemed to work tirelessly, and she loved it.
When I consider where she works (a Fortune 500), the enormity of it washes over me. How many years can one waste working for bad managers? In her case, she’s had 1 leader. 10 years of experience. 1 leader. 1 year.
That’s 9 additional years she could have spent growing and learning. It will take her another 9 years to reach where she should be right now. She will be 46 in ten years. Imagine who she could be if she knew now what she can hope to know by then.
Imagine who you could be today if you had had better leadership yourself.
Tragic. And inexcusable.
Sometimes who you want to be can seem to be defined as much by who you do **not** want to be, so I suppose a bad manager has his/her place, too.
But, it’s still tragic.
[This is a very true story, by the way.]