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The greatest lesson I have learnt is that a title doesn’t automatically qualify a person for leadership


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Leadership is something that I am extremely passionate about not only my leadership but the leadership of those around me. When I talk about leadership, I’m talking about leading not only in business, but also leading in our own lives whether that be in our community, schools, workplaces or even our homes.  

When asked about leadership, I always start with what leadership is not.

Leadership is not about title, rank, or power. Leadership has nothing to do with whether you have your own office, the number of direct reports you have or even the size of your pay packet.

We’ve all looked up to and admired people with titles, ranks, and positions of authority, labelling them leaders. What I learnt over time is that these labels don’t automatically qualify a person for leadership.

And in fact, you don’t even need a title to be a leader. Every day we have the ability to lead through every action, interaction, reaction and decision we make.

Looking back on my leadership journey, I now know that I was shaping myself into the leader I wanted to be by observation. I listened, I learned, I asked questions and I made mental notes of the leader I did and didn’t want to be for the future.

From a young age I was always so intrigued with the way people behaved, both good and bad.

And I always wondered…

What made people treat others with kindness and respect?

What made people step over others for self-gain?

What made people create environments of fear, and other’s environments of collaboration?

Why were some people caring and others cruel, and why were some generous and others greedy?

Without knowing it, I was becoming a ‘Leader By Design’ – which is the title of my book.

When you google the word leadership there are as many definitions of leadership as there are leaders.

My simple definition of leadership is: “One life impacting another in a positive way”.

Great leadership is inspiring and empowering others to do great things.

Great leadership is about showing compassion and courage in the way you lead.

Great leadership is believing in others when they don’t believe in themselves.

Great leaderships is about acknowledging ‘The Power of People’.

Great leadership is perhaps the most competitive advantage an organisation can have.

We live in a profit driven world –sales, margins, shareholder return, market share, revenue and profit which are all essential for organisations to reinvestment, innovate and grow.

However, an area that often gets over-looked and one that you’re not going to find on a spread sheet is ‘people’!!

What would happen if we changed the emphasis from profit to people, purpose, and passion?

Many leaders talk about their competitive advantage as being their strategy, their product offering, their processes, innovation and even their HR policies.

Many leaders have a philosophy of PROFIT first and PEOPLE second.

As a CEO I have always talked about my competitive advantage as ‘The Power of People’.

My philosophy has always been – People with Purpose and Passion = Profit.

It’s our job as leaders, yours and mine, to create environments that allows people to shine. Where they feel inspired and empowered and where they feel connected and valued.

People want to feel their work matters, and feel part of something greater than just the role they do or the seat they sit in.

People when given the right environment, will do amazing things.

Throughout my 30-year retail career, truly embracing the ‘Power of People’ and focussing on creating environments where people feel inspired and empowered, where people have a sense of purpose, where their voice is heard and where they feel valued has had so many positive knock-on effects. It builds trust, drives engagement, boost morale, improves performance, allows for innovative thinking, and very importantly retains incredible talent.

It is the ‘Power of People’ that can have a significant and very real impact on your business success and bottom-line.

In the past 18 months our world has been turned inside out and upside down and leaders have needed to step up and act quickly to find new ways of working,

and in many cases have needed to find ways of doing business very differently.

However, throughout this time of uncertainty, there is one thing I am certain of, and that is the leaders who navigate with passion and humility, the ones that have solid foundations and the ones that focus on their people will not only survive but thrive during these challenging times.

There are still too many leaders stuck in what I call the ‘old style’ of leadership –

one driven by authority not influence, one driven by dictatorship not democracy,

and one where profit comes at the cost of people.

This style of leadership is not only impermissible and outdated but it’s also highly destructive.

I want to change the rules, together we can change the rules.

Written by Colleen Callander.

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