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The Leadership Challenge. Why 70% Of Managers Fail To Become Leaders.

One week ago, I read a post from Charlene Pedro about a CEO who was very nasty and disrespectful to one of his managers. The guy shouted so loudly, everyone down the corridor knew that he didn’t like the size of the font. The manager walked out of the CEO’s office and returned with a handwritten resignation letter dated “effective immediately.” Can you blame him! How in God’s green earth do you expect anyone to function in that type of environment, and I am 100% sure this manager is not the first employee to face that type of abuse from that CEO. This story really stuck with me, and I can understand why 70% of managers fail to become leaders; they fondly call themselves leaders, but their actions and behavior say something different.

The Difference Between Managing and Leading

Harvard Business School scholar John Kotter has argued that there are three fundamentals processes for effective leadership that many managers have failed to grasp.

  • Establishing a compelling direction, a vision for the future, and the strategies for how to get there.

  • Aligning people, communicating the direction, building share understanding, getting people to believe in the vision, and then persuading and influencing people to follow that vision.

  • Motivating and inspiring people to enact the kind of change that you have articulated.

Kotter further argued that finding people with leadership potential is much more complicated than finding people who are good managers. Since driving change is much more difficult than striving for efficiency and meeting near-term financial and nonfinancial targets. The renowned leadership expert Warren Bennis the author of 30 leadership books and one of my favorite On Becoming a Leader, indicated that “A leader is not simply someone who experiences the personal exhilaration of being in charge. A leader is someone whose actions have the most profound consequences on other people’s lives, for better or for worse, sometimes forever and ever.”

When you are responsible for managing and leading people, you have the opportunity to make a profound impact on your employees, but it’s up to you as the CEO to recognize that your employees are your most prized resource. There’s no excuse for any so-called leader to abuse their employees. I have seen with my own two eyes, CEOs and managers taking pleasure in this kind of nasty behavior because they know and in many instances have convinced their employees that their company is the only one to work for, no other option exists.

I can remember attending a departmental meeting scheduled by the CEO, and this guy was trying his best to brainwash the staff to believe that if anyone leaves the company, they will be unemployed for four years. The CEO was so brazen; he even asked people to raise their hands if they believe they will get a job within the four years; only four employees, myself included, out of the 35 employees raise their hands.

You have to be very careful about the people who call themselves leader, especially the ones with Pseudo - Leadership tendencies. Many of these people are only concerned about their well being, nothing else. Leadership is about people, it’s about inspiring people to believe that the impossible is possible, it is about developing and building people to perform at heights they never imagine, and it’s about making a positive impact on your community, your company, your department, your employees and by extension the world.

Leadership is never about tearing people down and making people feel less than themselves. According to Charlene, if you want to be a great leader, you must first start with being a better human being.


About Gifford Thomas

I am the founder of Leadership First and one of the leading voices on inspirational leadership. At Leadership First, we are motivating, inspiring, mentoring and coaching over 122,000 leaders every day to believe in the impossible and helping all leaders create an environment where their people are inspired and motivated to become the very best version of themselves.

I am a member of Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, a Council member with GLG, an advisor with visaQ Inc out of Japan and one of the leading writers on Quora for Leadership Development. Leadership is all about people; it's about inspiring people to believe in themselves, to believe that anything is possible and to believe in something much greater than their own self-preservation; when we have that type of influence as leaders great things happen.

You can download a copy of my book The Inspirational Leader and Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible by clicking on the word inspirational below:

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