Leadership Skills without Leadership

Ever heard the cowboy euphemism“all hat and no cattle,” well that’s akin to thinking that someone that has leadership “skills”, can automatically lead. There is definitely such thing as “Leadership skills without leadership.”  I haven’t run across many people in my years in business that didn’t consider themselves a leader or that didn’t express a desire to be a leader. Many of those people spent heavily on books, seminars, workshops, and even coaching, and ultimately believed they had achieved the elusive status of “leader.” I mean they studied all the right stuff, knew how to do all the right things, and got the business results they were after, but, yep, there’s that word – “but…..” They may have studied the right stuff, etc. but, they failed to understand that leadership doesn’t come from a book, a workshop, or even coaching.

Difference Between the Two

People continuously ask, “what’s the difference between leading and managing others” my answer to that question is, the heart. It’s the “why” behind the “what.” Employees don’t know a leader’s heart, but instead, experience it. A person can be well schooled in leadership skills and demonstrate everyone of those skills to a “t”, but unless the motive is centered on others, a person is simply managing. Will others follow, likely, but again we must ask the big question “why.” Might it be because they have to?

The Heart of the Matter

Leadership occurs when we combine a leader with others and the others follow, not because they have to, but because they want to. They want to because they trust the leader’s judgement, trust his/her motives, and act on the feelings the leader creates within them (often-times confidence), and they know the leader cares about them. “Caring” is not something they teach in workshops or business school, it is something that occurs when a leader puts others ahead of him or herself. Can that be learned, absolutely it can. We speak of transformational leadership development, that is exactly what that means. We can teach leadership skills all day, how to communicate, how to set expectations, give feedback, vision cast, etc., but without heart those are simply that, skills and leadership is about far more than skills.

If you’re working to develop yourself into a leader, align your “why” to help others achieve theirs and you’ve just mastered the most difficult aspect of leadership that there is.

It really is pretty simple, just not always easy!

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