Breaking the myth of positional leadership is the first step towards actualizing authentic leadership. The idea that I have to be in a leadership position so as to exert authentic leadership is erroneous. You do not need a position anywhere to be an authentic leader.
John Mason in his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership avers that “the true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more or less. This implies that you do not need any leadership position to influence those around you.
The positional myth can eat up a person so deeply that they withdraw themselves from participating actively in an organization for lack of positional leadership. I know a friend who shows total indifference in the organization where he works because he is not occupying any leadership position there. This rendered him invisible in the organization. It did not take long. He became frustrated and quit the organization.
When we act like this my friend, we miss out on the opportunity of growth which relationship with members of our organization or group would have offered us. There are five levels of leadership which we build our personality into when we take up the task of becoming authentic leaders – leading from where we are.
With every person we meet, we begin from the last level of the ladder – Position. Granted that you can begin your influence from the level of position, yet you are not to remain at this stage. At the positional level, people follow you just because they have to do so. May be because you are the team leader or the CEO. It is important to note that at this level, your influence does not extend beyond your workplace. People follow you just because you are the boss or the one to pay their salaries – no more, no less. The good news is that you can leave this stage and go higher on the ladder.
In the second level – Permission, people follow you because they have made up their mind to do that. Here, people follow you beyond the official position level you occupy. Here work and relationship become fun. You freely relate with your workers or team members, crack jokes, trust and value them more as fellow humans. Thus, they begin to follow you because they want to follow you not because you occupy a leadership position.
In the third stair – Production level, people follow you because of the feats you have achieved. They would want to have you around because you solve problems and is very creative.
In the fourth level – People development, people follow you because of what you have done for them. At this level, your interest is replicating authentic leadership in others. You add value to their lives and make them more valuable.
The last level, – Personhood level, people follow you because of who you are and the personality you represent. This stage is for those who have spent time educating and coaching others into right living. You cannot take yourself to this last stage. It is people that put you there.
By implication, you don’t need a position to be productive, nor do you need a position to contribute towards developing others. This is so because influencing others is a matter of disposition and not a position. You thereby break the position myth around authentic leadership.
Put simply, what you need to be an authentic leader is not a position but a disposition towards becoming an authentic leader. Hence, you can lead from anywhere in a group – from top or bottom. Remember, leadership is a matter of influence and not position.