You don’t need a position to be a leader

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 03 July 2018   |   By Isang Lekhutile



Men make history and not the other way around. Thinking of great Leaders such as Nelson Mandela, George Washington, and Henry Ford one will think more of their greatness. Leadership can bring to mind a variety of images. Some people will resonate with unique leadership characters from different persuasions that include political, community, religious and leadership of campaigning groups.

Over the past weekend, while relaxing at my farm, I admired my herd boy relationship with his peers that reside around out farming community. My mind appeared focused on one great aspect that all this time took for granted. Influence! I have came to appreciate his irresistible influence on his peers to get things done on our small piece of land. Moreover, I also cherished the command and control he exercises over his peers. Lastly, I treasured the respect he commands and shares with his friends. Above all, his leadership qualities he possess although exercised at microcosm level, I silently and consistently continue to learn and leverage from the experiences of a man who simply manages my biological assets called goats. In executing his duties that seems simple and routine he was actually and unknowingly applying some complex leadership skills that I have learnt through studies and on the job training.


Personally, I do not believe in micro management style because I somehow associate it with ancient autocratic type of leadership. Higher and elevated positions, towering titles and authority are often misperceived as leadership. On the contrary, leadership does not equate to a position or title. Whether you are the Commander in Chief or Police Commissioner or Priest of a church that does not make you a leader. Typically, in churches and work places often people cannot distinctly distinguish leadership and position. In fact, position and authority provide you with the platform and potential to lead and regrettably, it does not make or transform you into a leader.

I firmly believe you do not need a position to lead. Therefore, everyone has an inherent potential to be a leader, particularly if they actually exercise that potential in them. In short, this means that leadership is an inherent gift.  No individual has title deeds to leadership! I can give you a perfect exemplar of a recent event that took the world by storm whereby a “a black migrant from Mali” called Mamoudou Gassama momentarily bravely and resolutely decided to become social leader in saving a life a small boy whose life was hanging in balance by scaling wall like the respected and reputed “Spiderman”. In a split of a second, he had a rare opportunity to mingle with one of the great leaders of our time, the French President His Excellency Emmanuel Macron. This only happened because he made a conscious decision to be an inspiring, brave and diligent leader in spearheading the rescue efforts in an outstanding fashion. And he proved to be a leader although moments earlier he was just a follower.


In my experience with working with and observing leaders around my world, I have concluded leadership absolutely is personal. In most organisations I worked for or visited I have characteristically observed that a the common response to the question that I normally pose “Who is the leader in this organization of this organization?” the universal and unequivocal answer I normally get is “the CEO or Managing Director!”. Yes, this a correct answer! However, I have a compelling urge to think otherwise, all us be it in business, church and community each and everyone can be a leader. A leader of excellence in any sphere of influence we choose. We can and have the capacity to switch position from a “follower” to an indisputable “leader”.

I could not resist to borrow from some brilliant illustrations that compellingly expresses from the likes of Donald McGannon who inspired me that “Leadership is an action not a position” and leadership has nothing to do with position, title and rank. Robin Sharma conveyed leadership by saying “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.” John Maxwell also inspires by saying “Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. According to Anitha Aldrin and R.Gayatri in the International Journal of Current Research and Academic Review ( volume 2 Number 8) they have defined leadership as “ a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs an organization in a way, that it makes it more coherent and cohesive”. The key note in the definition according to my understanding is the ability to influence and direct others to achieve agreed target. It is about one life influencing another. This is the subject I am inspired to share my little two-thebe thoughts of this sensitive inspirational subject. Having spent over six years with my herd boy and spending more time with him, I have acknowledged his ability to influence and direct his peers to perform our farm duties with ease and less cost. The above scenario clearly illuminates the command and scope of the how a leader influences followers. Leadership is mostly viewed by many as a position by appointment or earning and a leader can actually lead without a formal position Whilst position and authority provide individual with the potential to lead but that does not make you a leader! You do not suddenly become a leader just because you have the Manager – HR title or Chief Accountant tag. In fact, you do not need a title to lead. Leadership is not to control and make people fear and run after you.


Therefore, leadership is the influence to move people to your direction and relate them as yourself not Mr.  HR Manager, Mr. Chief Editor or Mr. CEO. The best and influential leaders do not lead from position. Positions and titles are merely used to show hierarchy and relationship of jobs at work. In fact, I do not like titles and they mean nothing to me. Whether you call me HR Executive or Senior HR, as long as my remuneration is aligned to the market and I do my job with joy and perfection then I am happy.  Most managers have the illusion of leadership as the power to control. Leadership has to be earned and is not pride. Your followers grant it. To know if you are a leader, look behind you to see if there are followers. If you have rebels then there is a problem with your leadership approach. A real humble leader will listen to people who are at the bottom of the food chain eg cleaners and driver. Leadership is about who we are, our actions, our deeds, how we treat others, how we make decisions, how we listen to others, how we accept responsibility for our actions and hold ourselves accountable.

In conclusion, I encourage employees or workers to resist abuse from managers who claim to be leaders. Managers use the tag “leader” as power command line to control and abuse. Great managers will have leaders from their team to influence others to perform the task to meet the departmental targets. Position is a position and leadership is different. Other people can have both and while many claim to have both.    

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