Leadership can be as much about creating space as it is about taking actions. It’s a hot topic at the moment: ‘what is leadership?’, ‘can you learn leadership’, ‘are leaders born or made’? But leadership is not always about doing things. Sometimes it’s about doing nothing, about standing back and reflecting, about creating the space for others to lead. Leadership can be contextual and reciprocal, with different people taking the mantle at different times.
I like the idea of ‘creating space’. The view of the leader blustering away behind a big desk is outdated, it assumes that they have the knowledge and the power and that all they need to do is shout at people and give instructions. A more matrix approach, which recognises that the solutions sit within the team, that the role of the leader is more as facilitator and coach than Director, feels more mature and certainly more inclusive, creative and agile.
Leaders need to have vision and need to be able to communicate that vision to others. But they don’t necessarily need to have the route map to deliver that vision. They need to be able to communicate effectively and share their vision, but they need to be flexible enough to recognise that the strengths of others enhance their weaknesses.
Learning to be a leader is therefore not so much about learning how to shout: it’s about learning when to be silent. It’s about learning how to help others excel, both through delivering momentum and support.