Don't be a wage slave - be a leader!

Feeling a bit low on charisma today? Don't worry - as Brinley Platts explains, most leadership skills can be taught and then it's...

Feeling a bit low on charisma today? Don't worry - as Brinley Platts explains, most leadership skills can be taught and then it's just down to catching the moment

Leaders lead people. There's no getting away from it; that is what leaders do. If they are not doing that they are not doing their job.

This can sometimes come hard to people in IT leader roles. The truth is that no matter how rapid the technological change, no matter how great the environmental uncertainty, if you are not leading your colleagues, you are not a leader.

You may still be a manager of course. Managers are essential in large organisations. They manage complexity through processes which are pre-set and understood. Now and again in the life of every manager the process doesn't do the job and they have to fall back on themselves and their teams. Every time this happens a leader is born, provided they have the self-belief and determination to get the job done.

Being a business leader is not about commanding a huge department and exercising power over an army of subordinates. Quite the contrary - the better you are at leading the less you will have to exercise formal authority and control. Research has identified the key strategies that all successful leaders use and these are now taught as learnable skills.

You start with yourself. Personal leadership is just about the most compelling subject you could wish to study because you are the subject, and the outcome will be increased personal power and success for you. Observing generations of information systems leaders going through this personal development is pretty fulfilling - like watching
"Personal leadership is just about the most compelling subject you could wish to study because the subject is you and your outcome will be increased personal power and success."
Brinley Platts
the arid desert bloom after an intense shower; suddenly everything smells of roses.

What is actually happening is that important beliefs and values are becoming conscious, together with many of the presuppositions that have been driving leadership behaviour. This is often experienced as a sense of relief, calm or breakthrough, and leads to a rapid reappraisal of personal capabilities and ambition. When you find you are so much better at something than you thought, you naturally wonder how much more you could achieve.

Next you will want to examine what has been holding you back. Internal conflicts form obstacles to natural talent and resourcefulness in all of us. Good leadership development will provide the techniques you need to achieve a level of congruence that will transform your influence on yourself and others. This is the basis on which you will then build your true personal leadership style and capabilities.

Armed with increased self-belief and enhanced personal power you do not want to remain what an old mentor of mine used to call a "wandering generality". You need to create a sense of purpose, a mission. Here again a good development programme will help you to define your personal mission and contribution, consistent with what matters most to you as an individual.

Graduates of this process report that they are more creative and successful; it has a profound effect on how they see their jobs and their many other roles in life.

Align your personal identity with your chosen mission and engage fully with what you have chosen to do and you can never fail because you will never give up. It sure beats working as a wage slave.

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