Ordinary People can all be extraordinary: Anyone can lead!
In the animated movie “Ratatouille,” the recurring theme centered on the phrase “anyone can cook.” The moral of the story was that books cannot be judged by covers, and talent can be found in surprising places, if given the chance to be discovered and prove itself.
We take this philosophical approach to human capital development in general and leadership development in particular:
Anyone can lead!
We define leadership broadly: Leadership is not an exclusive province of senior managers, or even supervisors. Everyone in an organization can lead from wherever they sit. In fact, to create a highly productive corporate culture, leadership must come from each and every position within the organization. Great cost-saving and revenue boosting ideas do not come from the executive suite. They come from engaged employees who choose to “lead from below.”
An online article by a fellow practitioner brought this to mind this week. It had a great title that captured the essence of leadership: “Getting extraordinary results from ordinary people.”
The title is a bit misleading, as our belief is that there are no ordinary people!
“Extraordinary leaders recognize every one of their people, given the right circumstances and challenges, have the potential to produce extraordinary results,” writes Susan Watson, the author.
The second article, from the folks at i4cp, took the opposite tack to arrive at a similar place: HR has increasing amounts of data to measure human capital performance, but has to remember that underneath the numbers are real people generating the results; telling the full story about results requires translating the data into human terms. What have the people accomplished as a result of human development programing?
Leadership development does not come from a bottle or a box on a shelf. It doesn’t transfer easily or instantly from teacher to student. It is hard work: It takes a long time to change the mindsets of those who need to transform their leadership styles to communicate better, to understand what trust between fellow employees really looks and feels like, and to obtain an abiding respect for and pursuit of the truth in each and every situation.
But if your organization commits culturally to the idea that everyone and anyone can lead, sustainably embedding more productive mindsets in every employee becomes much more achievable. And it doesn’t hurt to set up the proper systems to gather believable data that substantiates the investment.