Simon Sinek asks a great question in his TED talk. What makes a great parent?
We want to give a child opportunity, education, a chance to learn, fail, grow and achieve more than we have achieved ourselves. We trust a child, see and show them their capabilities, give space to find themselves and do their best in their life. Children follow their parents, not only because they are authority, but because they are great leaders.
When child fails, great parents do not put them in the performance improvement plan. Great parents teach to embrace the failure, they never forbid to fail again.
Great leaders do the same. They observe, give you an opportunity to succeed and fail, learn and iterate. They trust you.
At work, we are used to think of and see leaders as someone from the upper management. We are taught to see leaders only through the chain of hierarchy. The people up in the chain are the authority, so we listen to them and do what they say is right to do most of the time.
In most of the companies I have worked, there was a dedicated page with a list of people names categorized as “Leaders”. Obviously, most of the times those were the people with authority. I fail to understand this.
I learned to see leaders among my peers, friends, family, a stranger with whom I’d have a 5 minutes conversation in the street. For some reason, companies do not invest in the leaders who are not searching for an authority, they tend to pretend they don’t exist.
Being a great leader is a choice, seeing a great leader is a choice. Being an authority does not make you a great leader.