Our normal association with the term leadership is that we are referring to the people who are at the top of the political hierarchy of any particular organisation. Generally we expect these people to wield the most power, command the biggest salaries and know the most about the industry arena that they belong to.
The attraction of leadership therefore to most people is that if you want to “get ahead in life” you need to aspire to climbing the political ladder for the sake of improving your overall quality of life.
Within working groups this sets up a relationship dynamic where political alliances and competition is the key to survival and personal success. Winning and being better than others becomes the key motivational force that drives organisational activity and progression.
The problem with this is that often leaders have spent their whole career trying to get to the top and when they do they find themselves responsible for a whole team of people and it is no longer about themselves but about the people they serve and supporting them to deliver the services the organisation was created to deliver.
What tends to happen in the real world is that such people, due to the investment that they have made in getting to the top, tend to become attached to the status and power their position bestows upon them and yet at the same time experience this as the main barrier to the relationship building process that is necessary to unite a team towards a common set of goals and objectives.
Leadership beyond power and status is achieved by giving away power and control to the team members by sharing knowledge and experience to grow confidence and self-assuredness.
What is required of a leader to be successful at this stage of their career in many ways is counter intuitive to all they have learnt up to this point. Whereas before they were striving to be the best and now they are required to help others become the best they can be.
For this transition to be traversed successfully such a person needs to be opened to receiving the support of collaborators who are perceived as equals in their fields of expertise to temper any attachments to power and status and the impact they may have on team development and confidence.
The role of these perceived allies is to encourage the leader to share their thoughts and feelings concerning all significant matters so that advice and alternative perspectives can be assimilated into the decision making process.
This prevents the over centralisation of power and promotes a culture of collaboration, support and teamwork.