The Leadership Position And You

When asked by someone “what do you do?” how do you respond? Do you tell them your job position or do you tell them who you are?

In your position as the boss, do you demand respect from your team? If you do then you are doing it wrong. I have worked with many bosses in my time who demanded respect from us. They never, ever got it, even though they thought they did.

It was actually pretty funny to see these boss’s fueling their ego with the respect that they demanded, and never got. To lead and influence your team because of who you are, not because of your position, then your team need to respect you. They need to respect you because they want to, not because you demand it.

1. Respect

Notice I said your team need to respect you so you can lead and influence them, not your position. However, your team must respect your position in order for them to remain in the team, and in their job. Think about your own career, have you ever had a boss who demanded respect from you? If you have, did they get it?

Probably not. But, you did respect their position, right? The reason you respected their position was so you remained in the team and kept your job. So, you would probably only do enough work each day to get by. You probably wouldn’t have gone that extra mile.

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If you TAKE ACTION on what you are learning in this article and my other articles, and apply it, then you will start to earn the respect from your team. This will help you to lead and influence them. The more you want to influence your team, then the more respect you MUST EARN.

Respect is not automatic, you need to work very hard for your team, in order to earn the respect you require, and ultimately influence them.

Throughout the world in most industries, people who have a title of manager think that it is the position that gives them the authority over people. To a certain extent it does, but it does not enable them to influence their people. To have authority over people using only the position is what a “manager” does (this is most people).

If you influence your team using only your position then this is “false influence”. If you use only your position you are not leading, you are managing. Don’t get me wrong, work will be completed and you and the team will accomplish things. But, just how much will you accomplish?

2. Influence

If you use false influence with your team, then they are following you because they have to. The team will only do what they need to do to get the job done, or to just get by. Being the team’s manager, you have control of their time off and opportunities for advancement in the organisation.

So, the team will only follow you for those reasons if you use false influence with them. Hopefully, you can start to see that false influence will only get you so far with the team.

Being honest with you, I never liked being called boss. I would rather just be called Tom. Boss made me sound like the guy who demanded respect and led the team on false influence. Even though that wasn’t the case. I tried my best to lead the team with “genuine influence”.

To develop genuine influence, you must base it on your character and who you are, not your title or position. If you can do this then you will earn the respect you need to lead and influence the team. Then your team will work hard to go the extra mile, and do more than is expected. They will do this because they give you the respect you deserve.

A highly effective leader serves his/her team using genuine influence, not by using their position or false influence.

In my experience working for bosses who use false influence on the team, there are common types of phrases that they all use. See if any of these are familiar to you:

“These people don’t report to me, so how can I get the job done?”

“The guys won’t do anything I tell them to do. They’re not my guys.”

“I’m not their manager, it’s got nothing to do with me”

“It’s not my fault, I’m not their line manager”

“It’s not my job to motivate them when I don’t manage them”

A manager who uses false influence, or their position are the only people who would use phrases like the ones above. A leader would never use phrases like that…ever.

3. Leadership

Throughout my career, I have lost count of how many times I have heard phrases like that. Managers who use those phrases do not know the first thing about leadership or genuine influence.

When I worked with Scotland’s train operating company based in Edinburgh in 2011, I was an engineering production manager. I was part of a team of 5 engineering production managers on a rotating shift. When on shift we led a team of 6 engineers and other servicing teams who cleaned the trains and depot.

There was one of our team who thought he was the best out of the 5 of us. He had a huge ego and demanded respect from the teams when he was on shift. However, the team’s productivity was always at its lowest when he was on shift.

The reason for this is he used false influence and his position to manage them, not his character and genuine influence to lead them.

The rest of us tried our best to not be like him, and guess what? The teams would be far more productive and do more than was expected because we tried our best for the team, and used genuine influence. I was always honest with the team and would do my best to serve them.

The team wanted to work with me and respected me, so therefore we got a lot more accomplished. The teams did not want to work with the manager who demanded respect, so therefore he didn’t get a lot accomplished.

4. Responsibility

Genuine influence is all that a leader needs to accomplish great things with their team. Most managers have never read a leadership book in their life, and they probably don’t think they need to. So, they will never understand that to be a leader you need to have influence.

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A team’s productivity is almost 50% more when they want to work with their leader compared to a team who have to work for their manager.

A major problem that a manager has is that they are only interested in the team completing tasks. They don’t have any interest in developing the team or themselves. In fact, if they thought and behaved like a leader, and concentrated on their own and the team’s development, productivity would increase.

Now that you know the difference between false influence and genuine influence, how do you currently influence your team? Do you tell the team what to do or do get their buy-in first? Do you have a leadership style, if so what is it?

If you could use genuine influence a lot more with the team, what would you do differently? What changes would you need to implement?

Responsibility begins with the leader. If the team are not doing things correctly, it is not their responsibility, it is the leaders. The leader needs to understand why their team are not doing the right things, then work out what he/she is going to do about it.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

31 thoughts on “The Leadership Position And You

  1. Hey Tom,

    It’s weird, but throughout my management career I was never someone who “demanded respect”, but actually struggled with the title of “leader” or “manager”.

    I’ve always been told throughout my life, both working and social, that I’m a “natural born leader”. The type of person that people naturally listen to, gravitate towards, and follow.

    However, as I say, this is something that I’ve always had internal struggles with.

    I guess that’s down to my own personality and insecurities.

    Not wanting to be seen as different from others and always wanting to be liked.

    My first few years in management were a real education, as most people liked me as a person and a leader.

    That being said, it took me those few years to work out that “being liked” is NOT a prerequisite of being a great leader.

    This is when I set about doing what you constantly tell us on your website – I started to educate myself (mainly through books) in becoming a better leader.

    My early years taught me that “being liked” could often lead to the complete opposite of being respected, and there were those who chose to take advantage of my laid-back/kind nature.

    So, I had to learn a way in which I could lead without being everyone’s friend and without being too aloof.

    I’m sure people still “liked me” after my change in approach, LOL.

    I can tell you it’s a difficult journey and a constant learning process.

    I think I eventually found a happy-medium, but it took far more learning about myself than I ever imagined.

    But, that is what you’re constantly teaching us here isn’t it Tom?

    Only by bettering and learning about ourselves can we expect to become a better leader.

    Thanks
    Partha

    1. Hi Partha,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I have known you quite a bit online and you have commented on many of my articles, and you don’t come across as a person who would demand respect. People who demand respect do not know what leadership is. What they know is dictatorship and that is now way to lead, inspire, build trust or strengthen a relationship.

      Keep doing what you’re doing and being the leader you are for your people.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Great article on the leadership position and you! I love all of your articles and how they help leaders! I especially like the 4 tips you have outlined here: Respect, Influence, Leadership and Responsibility. They are all so important.
    Thank you for sharing this valuable info.

    1. Hi Alyse,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this a great article.

      I really appreciate you saying you love all my articles, it means a lot to me. I hope you take action on what you learn form the articles and if you need any help then please gt in touch.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Tom,

    This is so accurate, as are all your other leadership posts I’ve seen. Too often, we do see managers that expect people to just follow them because of their title. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen someone in a management role expect people to like them, do everything for them, be nice to them, etc, simply because they’re labeled a “manager”.

    As a General Manager, I used to promote people that I thought the other employees would genuinely follow. I would sometimes choose people that were brand new to the store to be promoted. Many employees would get upset, asking why I chose to promote the new person over them.

    Very simply, I would state that I didn’t promote based on time, I promoted based on the ability to actually lead. Sure, I would get arguments as to why they felt they could do the job better. I always heard them out of course and tried for a solution where they would see that in fact, they weren’t a good fit. So, I would assign them great responsibility all of a sudden, giving them management tasks without the actual promotion. They would come to me days later, stating that they couldn’t do the job. They didn’t want it.

    This is when I would sit them down and let them know that I already knew they wouldn’t want the job. I was very observant of all my staff at all times, even off the clock. I knew what they were capable of, and what they weren’t. Then, I would state my reasons for having promoted who I did and why.

    While they would want the pay raise, they didn’t want the extra responsibilities and understood after giving them the tasks.

    Being a leader not only means what you say, but also seeing in others what is beneath the surface. Reading people, their body language and leading each person accordingly. I often referred to this as mirroring my employees. This was especially important in times of coaching for disciplinary reasons.

    Thanks for sharing this! Great information!

    Katrina

    1. Hi Katrina,

      Thank you for your very detailed article. It means a lot to me that you found the article so valuable.

      I appreciate you sharing your expereinces with us as a general manager. There will be people who read this article who will have been in a similar position to you and hopefully they can learn from you as well as learning from the article.

      You are right, there are too many managers who think that having the position and title automatically makes them a leader. When nothing could be further from the truth.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Hey Tom, this post is so on point but then again all the other posts I have read on your website are too.

    I spent 6 years in the forces in Germany and know all too well the different types of leaders (based on their ranks) and how they influenced their teams.

    The higher the rank the more you had to distance yourself from the people you lived with which was difficult.

    Many got it right but there were a lot of egos.

    Whilst in my civilian role as a software developer I had 3 managers in the 6 years I was there and everybody got on well and the jobs always got done in the right manner possibly because they didn’t act like many managers you see.

    Everybody got stuck in, even the managers to get the job done.

    Looking elsewhere in the company and managerial problems were evident and one of the reasons I decided to go freelance.

    Thank you for sharing another great post.

    Mick

    1. Hi Mick,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this and my other articles valuable, it means a lot to me.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experiences in Germany and the leaders that you worked with. I am hoping more people from the military can read my articles and resonate with the principles I am sharing. I am not from the military but I know that the leadership is extremely strong and a lot of people learn from them.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Hi Tom!

    Another great and very important post. Part of the reason I decided to build my own website was because I was sick of the “boss” stigma in corporate America.

    At my previous job, I had a boss that was encouraging and had read leadership books but there were still times where I felt like the boss card was being played and I was only showing up to work each day for a paycheck and doing things because I respected the position and not the person they were. It can create a very toxic work environment when this goes on for too long.

    Also at my previous job, I was a property manager. I managed with encouragement, constructive hands-on criticism and when we had those moments I would help them to find ways to resolve the issue that worked best for each individual. I also loved delegation.

    I hope other managers and leaders take notes from you and your e-book!

    1. Hi Haley,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this a great article.

      Good for you in building your own website, and I believe you have done it for the right reason. You had a dream and with the way things were going in your professional life, you found it was the right time to do it. Well done to you in doing it and I hope you are advancing your cause with your new website.

      I appreciate you sharing your expereinces with corporate America as there will be a lot of people who read this post and hopefully read your comment who can relate to similar experiences. They will be able to learn from you and maybe follow a similar path.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

    2. Hi Haley,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this a great article.

      Good for you in building your own website, and I believe you have done it for the right reason. You had a dream and with the way things were going in your professional life, you found it was the right time to do it. Well done to you in doing it and I hope you are advancing your cause with your new website.

      I appreciate you sharing your expereinces with corporate America as there will be a lot of people who read this post and hopefully read your comment who can relate to similar experiences. They will be able to learn from you and maybe follow a similar path.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi there,

    This is an excellent post in leadership. It’s funny I just finished listening to the audiobook 100 ways to create wealth and he talks a lot about the points you’ve made. Specifically, if you’re in a leadership position by force, you won’t last long there. But if you’re in a leadership position because your team actually wants to follow you, the. You’re golden. And this is all about building a 2 way street of trust and respect between the leader and his followers be it employees or otherwise.

    He also talks about how ones who can be the fastest downfalls of a leader because the person is so focused on themselves and not the success of the team.

    Great post, thank you again for sharing!

    1. Hi Dev,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found this an excellent article on leadership.

      I completely agree, if you are in a leadership position and your people follow you because they want to, then you are in a good place. I’ve not read the book 100 ways to create wealth, but if they’re talking about similar points to me then it must be good 🙂

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Hi Tom
    This is such an important distinction, between leading by genuine influence rather than by position. I can also think of many bosses I’ve had over the years who did, to some extent fall into the leadership by position category. I think perhaps interestingly that was more in the earlier years of my career.
    I think that would likely be due to a number of factors. On one hand, we would like to think that as the general level of training of managers has improved over the years. On the other hand that may be more a function of the different kinds of organizations I was working in as I moved from one employer to another and the different organizational cultures.
    I think it is also true to say that leaders who lead by position or at least try to lead by position also exhibit a whole raft of other negative management and leadership attributes.
    The leader who leads by genuine influence will also tend to care about the development of the people they lead. So while much of the interaction time between a supervisor and the people being supervised will focus on the work tasks, some of that time has to be devoted to discussing how the careers of the people supervised are progressing and how the supervisor can help them to develop. This periodic focus on the development of your staff goes a very long way to building the foundations of trust that will allow you to lead through genuine influence.
    Thanks for another great article
    Very best regards
    Andy

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your comment as always. I’m pleased that you thought this was another great article, means so much to me.

      Couldn’t agree with you more about what you say about genuine influence and false influence. When you lead your people Andy, you must lead with genuine influence. They must follow you because they want to, not because they have to.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. I agree that many managers just demand respect because of their position, but respect needs to be earned. I have had managers whom I highly respected and others I had absolutely no respect for, for the reasons you mentioned. Many could benefit from reading this article. Although I have never seen myself as a leader and the management function seems to be too much responsability for me, I have been told that I”m a good leader 😉 Well, who knows?

    1. Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you found the article valuable.

      You are right, leaders must earn respect. Respect cannot be expected when you take up a leadership position. We must follow and respect our leaders because we want to, not because they have to.

      If people are telling you that you are a good leader, then you are. You cannot call yourself a leader, only others can call you a leader. So take that, run with it and keep improving your and working on your leadership EVERY DAY.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Hi Tom, thank you for providing such amazing and useful post. You can’t find a lot of texts about real leadership so I really enjoyed reading.
    Yes, you are right, the productivity of a team depends directly on its leader. Being a real leader when people respect but not out of fear but voluntarily is very difficult. I think today there are very few good bosses as there are very few good people. In addition to being a professional, a leader must first and foremost be a good man, full of understanding, tolerance, a man without complexes. People on the team should respect him for his character.
    I have not had good experiences with my bosses, most often they were very arrogant people. But maybe someone will read this text and change behavior.
    The E book is also phenomenal and worth reading.
    Keep writing texts like this.
    Regards, Danijela

    1. Hi Danijela,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so happy that you thought this was an amazing article.

      I am sorry to hear that you haven’t had good expereinces with your bosses. If you keep having these expereinces then maybe it’s time to think of something else, or use what you learn here to challenge them when they are behaving poorly.

      If you would like to talk about it then please let me know.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Hi Tom
    I am not a manager at my current day-job. I work directly under one though.

    However, I am a professional and lots of the employees need to come to me for approval before handing out the product to the clients.

    If there is a problem, then it would be taken up by my manager.

    I often hear from these employee’s asked me ‘why don’t you become our manager, we would love it if you were in charge.’

    I realize now after having read your article, it’s because I have a genuine influence on these people, they would rather listen to me than my manager.

    And to share with your readers, sometimes it about showing them that you care. As they say, a little does go a long way.

    1. Hi Rooseph,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased that you found this a valuable article.

      I appreciate you sharing your experience as a professional as there will be a lot of people who will read this article who can relate to you. Even though you don’t have a manager’s title or position, doesn’t mean you are not a leader. A leader is not made when he/she is in a position. A leader is made when he/she helps others and has people follow them.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Hello Tom, Thank you for your thought-provoking post. It brought back memories of some of my past jobs and what you say in your post is exactly right: When someone clearly demands respect, he will get the opposite.
    I have worked in quite a large number of language schools, and, perhaps not surprisingly, the institutions with naturally respectable, effective leaders were thriving, whilst the ones with the respect-demanding types were not successful for long and eventually had to close down. It was partly because it was hard to build a stable team at places like that.
    The teachers (myself included) were just not motivated enough to work there for long. It was similar to your situation in Edinburgh in 2011; the productivity of the team can be hugely influenced by the personality of the leader.

    Finally, I like your point about the leader’s responsibility, that if the team are not doing things correctly, that the leader should take responsibility for this. Apparently, in ancient Peru, during the reign of the Incas, when a worker stole something, they arrested their employer instead, because it was assumed that the worker wasn’t been paid enough and thus needed to steal; so his behaviors was ultimately the employer’s responsibility. Interesting isn’t it. Imagine this happening nowadays, he he. Thanks again for such a motivating read!

    1. Hi Lucie,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found this article thought-provoking.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experiences of your past roles and working with your past leaders. There will be a lot of people who read this article who will be in a similar position and will be able to relate to your experience. Hopefully they can learn from you just as much as they learn from me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  12. Thank you Tom. This reinforces in me that the way I manage a department is the right way that ultimately produces results. Like you I never liked being called boss and I always acted as a leader AFTER earning my teams respect. I never demanded it nor did I seek it.

    I knew that if I treated my team with respect, pitching in, doing the same work as they from time to time, and treating them as an equal in certain situations, they would come to respect me as their manager and be willing to work that extra mile if I needed them to. The big take away from this, don’t have an ego.

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thank you for your comment. I am so pleased that you found this article valuable.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experience as a leader of a department. You and I are very similar in our leadership style and I love sharing stories with other leaders and learn from each other. I hope other leaders can read your comment and learn from you too.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  13. Hey Tom

    Thanks for sharing another sound leadership piece.

    For me, I noticed early on that respect wasn’t something that came naturally to me. So I studied the concept for myself in order to be good at it. I even bought a couple of books on the topic. And that’s when I learned that respect has 3 parts:

    – human respect, which is inherent to everyone;
    – positional respect, which is derived from a role; and
    – earned respect, which is accrued from one’s actions and deeds.

    The respect a person has is basically a function of these three components.

    Now our roles as managers command a certain degree of respect by virtue of the authority already associated with the role as you very well explained. However, those of us who want to have the most impact will not rely solely on positional respect. We must take actions that build on the authority of our positions – actions that are based on good value system – values such as honesty and integrity, hard work and innovation, treating people with dignity and fairness etc.

    Conversely, positional respect can be diminished or undermined when the person occupying a position of leadership is taking the wrong actions. So respect is not something you can just summon or something that is static. It is dynamic and we have a lot of control over it than we imagine, depending on how we shape the ‘earned’ aspect of it.

    Thank you again for reminding us of these all-important leadership concepts that are needed more than ever before in these challenging times.

    All for now
    Femi

    1. Hi Femi,

      Thank you for your detailed article. I’m glad that you found this a sound article.

      I love how you discuss your expereinces with respect. Respect isn’t an easy thing for anyone, as when people demand respect it is difficult to actually respect them. We may respect the position, but we will not respect the person. To earn respect we must first set the foundation in place and build trust.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  14. Another good read Tom.

    I’ve held senior leadership positions in the insurance industry for in excess of 20 years and have lived and worked in a number of different countries. When asked what I do, I simply say that I work in the insurance industry. It isn’t that sexy and I don’t have much of an ego so connecting with people be it professionally or otherwise has not been a challenge for me.

    Your comments on respecting the individual as opposed to the position are on point. While people can do the ‘yes sir no sir’ to their boss, without genuine mutual respect, its definitely an up hill battle in terms of influencing and taking a team forward. Its a 2-way street of course so mutuality is key.

    Thanks for sharing – Jason.

    1. Hi Jason,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this article another good read.

      I appreciate you sharing your expereinces in your senior leadership positions. There will be a lot of people who read this article who will have been in similar positions and be able to relate to you. Hopefully, they can learn from you aswell as me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  15. Character means something. There are too many people of position who use bullying, intimidation, narcissism and even downright shouting/yelling to get their subordinates to get things done. But you’re right, this is futile. And there is a big difference between a manager and a leader.

    A leader requires good character. And a person of good character and integrity automatically finds that she/he is respected and has influence.

    This is a great article Tom, and an useful reminder to our society about what effective leadership constitutes.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Andrea,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found this a great article, means so much to me.

      I couldn’t agree with you more that Character really does mean something. Character is more important than competency and it is so important that we work on our character every day.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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