“A winner knows how much he still has to learn even when he’s considered an expert by others. A loser wants to be considered an expert by others before he has learned enough to know how little he knows.” ~ John C. Maxwell
I’m proud to say I am a leadership expert.
I don’t say this with pride and ego but rather with humility and confidence.
What makes someone a true leadership expert is the fact that they are first and foremost committed to spending the rest of their life as a student of leadership because they are fully aware of how much they don’t know and may never know.
For many years, I have been doing at least one of the following every day: reading about leadership, watching leadership videos, listening to leadership audios, attending leadership seminars, and applying what I’ve been learning along with sharing it with others. Not some days, every day.
Leadership experts do not focus on being the best teacher. They focus on being the best student.
And, the others that I know to be true leadership experts are doing the same thing. That’s where I learned what I’m sharing with you. Real leadership experts model being a full-time student of leadership.
If you want to easily discover if your boss, or anyone for that matter is a manager, leader, or leadership expert, ask them what leadership book (audio/video counts too) they are reading or have read. The more the better. Low level leaders (managers) don’t read at all. When asked, they will give you excuses, not titles. If they have attempted to read/learn about leadership but don’t buy-in to the principles, they will not continue. Their leadership journey has ended. They will remain managers throughout their career.
If the answer is I’m not reading anything and haven’t read anything, they are a very low level leader (manager) at best, regardless of their title or position or how many people report to them. If they are reading something at the moment, that means they either are or are working on becoming a leader. If you learn they have been reading leadership books for many years regularly and frequently and have an extensive library, they either are or are well on their way to becoming a leadership expert.
Leadership experts see life as a “science lab” where they apply and test what they are learning about leadership on a daily basis. A true leadership expert doesn’t just learn about it and talk about it. They live it. They model it. Their first and most important focus is on transforming their own lives in an effort to help others do the same.
What makes someone a leadership expert is not that they know it all, although they do know a lot more than most. However, it’s just the opposite. I’ve discovered those who truly know the most about leadership are also the same ones that are endlessly and consistently trying to learn more on a daily basis because they are most aware of what they don’t know but need to know.
Leadership experts already know more about leadership than 99.9% of people on the planet. Yet, they are attempting to learn more every day.
What’s interesting is that those that know the least about leadership think they know the most and are usually doing nothing to intentionally learn more. Because they truly know so little, they think they don’t need to learn any more. In reality, they don’t have a clue and think they know it all or that they know enough. And, they do know enough to get by. But they don’t know enough to be effective leaders. Can they manage? Maybe. Can they lead? Potentially at a very low level.
Those with an actual leadership position need to know the most about leadership because that’s what they get paid to do: lead. It’s their job. They are actually responsible for the growth and development of people. But, those that are not growing and developing themselves will never be able to grow and develop others. So, they typically struggle day in and day out to get their team to do their job. If they can master this, they feel as though they have accomplished the mission. For a leader, getting the people to do their job is the minimum requirement.
Most with a leadership position or title think leadership and management are the same thing. If you ask them to tell you the difference, they look at you like you just asked a really stupid question. So, most only manage while a few may actually attempt to lead, regardless of how big their title is or how prominent their position is. They can’t lead. They don’t know how, but they truly believe they are leading others. They are only fooling themselves.
However, the vast majority of people with a leadership title, have never and most likely will never read one leadership book, much less become a full-time student and leadership expert. They think they don’t need to. And, unfortunately, they’re right. They can climb right to the top without it. Why? Because their position and title gives them control and artificial influence that allows them to accomplish their mission. But, they can’t come close to accomplishing what a leader can accomplish with the same team.
I often have the opportunity to meet very high level positional “leaders” that have accomplished much and are responsible for much and many. They are great people. However, most are not leaders. They are managers, and sometimes, they are outstanding managers achieving great results. But, they are not leaders of people. They are managers of things and people.
What I’ve found is that most people on the front lines know more about the principles of leadership (influence) than those at the top. Why? Because they can only get things done on the front lines with real, earned influence based on relationships, not position and title. It’s about who they are not what they are.
Many on the front lines are also hungry to grow and learn. But, they also don’t know what they don’t know.
This is why my latest focus has been to create a new resource to help leaders develop their front line team members and to help those on the front lines develop themselves while they are working for a manager that doesn’t plan on developing his/her team. We need more leaders at the top, not more managers. To my knowledge, there is no other resource like this on the market. I hope that it becomes the cornerstone to inspire many on the front lines to become true leadership experts.
As they do, they will be offered positions and titles based on their ability to lead, not only manage. When this happens, there will be effective leaders to replace the ineffective managers. Until there are enough leaders to fill the positions, they will continue to be filled with managers.
Many will manage, but only a few will lead.
Note: I encourage you to be a river, not a reservoir. Please share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.