Everyone knows this truth: Not all people who hold executive positions are good leaders.
Experience has taught me a sharper truth: Most of the people holding executive positions are poor leaders.
Haven’t you worked in an organization in which employees routinely spoke in a derogatory manner about the boss? “He’s an idiot.” “You can’t believe anything she says.” “He doesn’t care about us.”
Often, an individual is promoted because of connections, favors, or his or her political value; this is especially true in the public sector, where productivity means nothing. In the private sector, an individual is more likely to be promoted because of the posted profits associated with his or her managerial work; such profits often occur at the expense of team members.
Although some executives are good leaders, I have learned that I’m just as likely to find good leaders at the middle and lower levels of the organization. Remember that leadership does not require a title or supervisory status; leadership occurs whenever people choose to follow someone.
To improve your team, look for leaders in lower positions. If you see someone who has already made referent power a way of life, you need only guide that person as to new ways that he or she can help the team.