Is People Leadership Recognized?
posted by Dave Dame
April 04, 2016
Lately I have been thinking about whether true people leadership is recognized in today’s corporate culture. You hear great leaders who have ‘owned’ tangible initiatives that drove products to market or grew organizations. They have done a great job in working directly with customers, sold a vision to stakeholders, negotiated investment in driving new capability that ends up in customer’s hands…resulting into Sales. They get recognized for their achievements as a great leader. This is critical for business survival.
What about those leaders behind the scenes?
What about leaders who work incredibly hard and spend countless hours with their people and people from other groups to listen, inspire, and unleash their potential that leads to these people being outstanding individual contributors. They do not 'own' anything. They have little authority on their side but use their super power of influence to drive culture. Is this recognized? They do get appreciation from all those you directly work with…this is what inspires you to keep doing what you do, despite the appreciation from those on the outer circle.
You cannot go a day on LinkedIn without seeing a series of articles on ‘Culture is the main enabler to success or culture eats strategy for breakfast, etc.’ We know a lot of companies are struggling to create or sustain the culture needed to retain today’s knowledge workers that are in high demand to succeed.
I see great people leaders get buried in initiatives that get added to their role. This either comes at the request of ‘people’ leaders to get recognized or from executives to help these leaders ‘progress’ in their career. All these extra programs/initiatives take away the necessary time these ‘people’ leaders need to devote these people. We focus to reduce context switching for individual contributors, should we not do the same for leaders?
What drives people leaders every morning is to create an environment where people can do their best work. This requires a lot of hours building relationships with all the people who they have influence with, building circles of social learning like lean coffees and communities of practice. This does not have a direct connection with the bottom line or return on investment, but a key enabler to build that culture that is crucial for success that we all read about.
If this is not recognized - will they move on to become another corporate initiative pusher?
I know some people will say, “Knowing they helped people is it’s own reward”. It’s human nature to want recognition from their leaders.
Being a huge fan of Simon Sinek, he says, “Leaders Eat Last”.
However, Leaders still need to eat.
My opinion is that people leaders need to valued and recognized. If not, we will always have a shortage of these leaders to build that culture everyone is struggling to achieve.
What are your thoughts?