The question who ought to be boss is like who ought to be the tenor in the quartet? Obviously, the man who can sing tenor. -Henry Ford
Not everyone can sing tenor. I can’t sing at all. The only time I ever sang with a quartet, my microphone wasn’t even plugged in. Thankfully, the other three were so talented, I wasn’t even missed.
But why is it that leadership roles are often given to the wrong people?
For example, you have a group of salesmen and their manager leaves. Someone needs to fill this position. And it usually goes to the best salesman. What a ridiculous idea. The skill set of a salesman and the skill set of a leader are completely different. The job should go to the person who can do it; who has the necessary skill set.
In the above example, no one wins. The sales team is unhappy because they are working for a poor leader. The new manager is unhappy because he is expected to do a job that he has no talent for. And the company is unhappy because their sales are down. Sales are down for two reasons.
- They sales team is unhappy
- They have lost their best salesman
We see this happen all the time. The only thing the company could have done worse would be to give the job to the person who has been there the longest. Why would longevity relate at all to talent? And yet we see it all the time.
Back in my early twenties I worked for the Provincial government as a survey instrument man. At the time I had earned my commission as a Manitoba Land Surveyor. That meant, that not only was I overqualified for the job I was doing, I was overqualified for the job my supervisor was doing. My skills and abilities were being wasted because of seniority.
The jobs weren’t allocated based on skill sets and ability. They were allotted based on how long you had worked there.
So if leadership roles should go to people with leadership skills, then how am I supposed to get ahead? The obvious answer is to increase you leadership skills. Don’t wait until you are up for a leadership position. Be ready.
Leadership is definitely a learnable skill. Oh, sure there are some people who have a natural talent for it but it is a skill like any other and can be learned. It takes time and it is a process. But it can be learned.