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The crux of sham leadership culture

It's easy to Yes Ma'am in response to aspirational quotes good leadership... It's not easy to apply those learnings.

"Be a humble leader." Humility is hard when your ego's been hammered.

"Truly listen to your team." Listening skills aren't taught in schools.

"Serve your subordinates."

Lol but how...

"Be a leader, not a boss."

This language is a tip-off that whatever words surround "boss" are the bad ones.

Three marketing writers are having a discussion while leaning on a table, dressed formally in an office space

We know we need to be leaders, not bosses. Though different people have different ideas of what represents leadership.

We often know the right things to say during internal courses about leadership, but neglect to ask the real questions that would help us learn, for fear of being shamed and lopped off the "potential promotions" list.

We know micromanagement isn't a desirable habit. But do we know when we should micromanage?

There are times when getting heavily involved is necessary, but little is said about easing away from micromanagement without losing work quality. This is just one example of real leadership skills that are buried under eager quotes designed to garner a rapid "agreed!" comment and a reshare.

Why is real leadership hard to learn?

To answer this, let's ask ourselves, how many bosses did many of us have before we saw an example of great leadership, a role model to emulate?

Due to a lack of practice and absence of good role models:

  • We don't realise when we're slipping out of service mode.

  • We don't always notice we're mounting our high-horse.

And while we learn how to take notice... We're being crappy leaders.

A writer types on a laptop, leaning back and seeming to be sulking.

All the organisational tips, conversational tools, and aspirational quotes about leadership in the world aren't a substitute for practice. Sadly, most of us will be below-average bosses while we learn on the job.

Is there a way to elude sham leadership culture?

Some REAL ways to practice what we preach about leadership, so we can apply the learnings from the management books might look like:

  • Running real projects, under leadership supervision

  • Leading a voluntary charge within our specific areas of knowledge

  • Buddy programs, wherein more senior employees can support new hires

  • Organising family events or large holidays

  • Being held accountable for our own KPIs

  • Working with agencies and freelancers on a project basis

There are many ways we can gain real leadership experience. As aspiring leaders, we should seek out opportunities to flex our leadership muscles from a safe space, before joining people management.

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