Leadership is about the Person not the Title

In the years that I have been running a business and an international charity, I have met a number of successful leaders. That’s not surprising, I deal with many different organisations and people. What may be surprising is that a significant number of those leaders were not in a leadership position. While they may not have been in a titled position, they were unquestionably leading those around them.

I think most of us have met the reverse, those who have the title, but their leadership skills go no further. We call them ‘positional leaders’. They may have the authority to instruct others but they don’t have the trust and respect of those who work with them. Ultimately, that is what leadership is all about, without that trust and respect the leader is not going to have a united team.

Basing leadership solely on the position in an organisational structure is a sure fire way to reduce effective staff engagement and create a negative workplace culture. Without strong leadership, teams, and in turn, companies, cannot reach their potential. It takes so much more than a title to lead.

I have enjoyed the privilege of witnessing true leadership qualities in people who are not in a titled position. They may have little formal recognition but they have the full attention and support of those they are engaging.

I recall one young woman who was in a fairly junior position and yet she could harness the full motivation and engagement of those around her. Observing the interaction, it was clear that she had their trust, respect and loyalty because she showed integrity, commitment, honesty and many other qualities we see in a strong leader.

Along with strong personal characteristics, leaders innovate and they motivate others. They want to see others develop and grow so they share knowledge, they encourage and appreciate professional development, and they build the leadership skills in others.

Successful leaders are also action focused. They know just what it takes to make sure all necessary action items are implemented whether they do it themselves or delegate to the right person. This can be a useful skill for people at any level of an organisation. Imagine the company where every staff member showed such skills and behaviours.

If you are in a leadership position, are you developing those leadership skills in others? Are you empowering those who are at different levels of your business so they have the confidence to step up and lead from their position? It is a worthwhile investment to develop and grow the leadership skills of every member of your team.

An important leadership trait that has a significant impact is to keep the bigger picture in mind while still focused on what needs to be done to successfully take the steps required to get there. Developing the leadership skills in others is preparing for the future growth of your business.

In the future, when you have a need to appoint more titled leaders, if you have already developed their leadership capabilities, they will already have the necessary skills and the transition will be smooth. It’s a win-win situation.


Alison Vidotto is the award winning author of 22 Leadership Fundamentals; the Door to Success says Push! A leadership keynote speaker and trainer, CEO of Vidotto Group and Founder of the Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam (www.accv.net.au) Alison has a passion for leadership and development, both within herself and in others. She writes leadership articles for the Australian Business Women's Network (http://www.abn.org.au/blog-list/leadership/) Alison has also been published in the...

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