The Absence of leadership is often felt by a company, but not recognized. I was recently talking with a friend in a high up position with a national non-profit and she is stuck in an environment that is demotivating, where everyone is playing in their own sandbox and not interested in helping out the team unless it advances their own career or reputation. We started discussing the absence of leadership and how, often, the players in the system mostly recognize the symptoms of a pained structure, as opposed to the core issue, which is that bad leadership acts like a cancer that slowly deteriorates and eventually destroys the organism.
Not understanding the root of the problem, people set out to put band-aids on all of the wounds, hoping that a bit of neosporin and a bandage will stop the bleeding. This kind of environment is a dangerous one, where often the remedies attempted can sicken the structure, worsen the disease, and kill the body more quickly.
This is where intentional followership is as important as strong leadership. Followers who are intending to be leaders need to step up to the plate and challenge the leadership. Often times the leader is working in a vacuum, not recognizing the illness either and just letting the organism get sicker and sicker. If more people in the system were aware of the “bad leadership effect”, they might be comfortable to step in, step up and be an active part of the solution.
My point here is that having the conversation of what the role of other members is in the company is imperative. If they think that their only job is related to their title, you probably won’t find them stepping up any day soon to challenge the individual ini the leadership role. But if they are frequently challenged to question and to fight the fights they believe are worth fighting, the environment can truly be healthy and strong.
Any creative entity (body, company, film, manuscript) is made up of the what has most strongly been fought for on it’s behalf. If it is only as good as the vision of the leader, it will inevitably be weaker than it could potentially be if everyone in the system was fighting for what was most important to them and challenging the leader to raise his or her own game.