Leadership capability refers to how a leader uses his skills and abilities to get things done. Even a very skillful leader may fail to lead when a situation is beyond his or her capabilities.
The Mayor Who Became President
Let me give you an example for illustration purposes.
A city mayor thought that he could introduce change in the country if he becomes President. He has been city mayor for three decades and was frustrated because he has limited power and resources.
He believed that he could solve the whole country’s traffic problems though he failed to solve his city’s traffic problem. He thought that he could get rid of corrupt politicians, though among his friends are the most corrupt families. He believed that he could solve the drug problem, though his city’s drug problem is one of the worst.
He believed all of these not because he is capable but because he thought that the Presidency’s almost unlimited power could make things happen.
Though indeed, the Presidency’s power is probably a thousand times greater than that of a city mayor, not everyone can wield power.
He has no experience holding a national office. And instead of surrounding himself with people who can get the job done, he hired people who were loyal to him when he was the city mayor. They did not have any idea how to govern a country.
While he can make big promises and convince the people through political propaganda, he failed miserably. The economy suffered, and people lost jobs and livelihood.
And during the Covid-19 pandemic, his country was committed to the most prolonged lockdown in the world. The ambitious city mayor who became President did not know how to lead in times of crisis.
Many times I have encouraged leaders to think big and play bigger. Leaders who are not capable cannot think big and play bigger.
You must increase your leadership capability. When you don’t feel ready for a job, don’t fret. Sometimes, people will appoint you not because you are most capable. At times, it is just because they pin their hopes on you.
You can increase your leadership capability.
Learn how to learn.
You cannot wait for people to teach you how to do your job. I have mentioned the city mayor who became president precisely because he refused to learn.
It is often the case that in a democracy the most popular leader is not the most capable. People are attracted to leaders who make hyperbolic promises. The uneducated bet on those who can make great promises because they don’t know how to measure leadership capability.
One day, you will be appointed to a post you are not ready for.
But as long as you know how to learn, you’ll not be a burden. You will find ways to solve problems. You can easily adjust. It does not ensure that you’ll become the best, but it ensures that you will add value.
You can learn from books. You need to understand theories to make sense of your leadership. You can learn also how to handle different kinds of people.
You can learn from others. You can surround yourself with people with skill sets greater than yours. A leader does not need to be the most intelligent person in the room. He must have the courage to bring intelligent people together and learn from them.
Increase your leadership capability by listening more. Make conversations with people. Discover their dreams. Find out what they want to do. Know what they are capable of doing.
Get feedback from people. They can tell you things which you don’t see. The most incapable leaders are those who only listen to yes-men. That’s the problem of the former city mayor. He listened, but only to his yes-men who won’t tell him what he needed to hear. [mfn] This reminds me of Joseph Estrada, who during his presidency got his advice from his drinking buddies. [/mfn]
Listen more often. Listen to people who don’t like you too. They’ll tell you things that your subordinates won’t tell you.
And then, learn from all of them.
Uninspiring bosses make uninspired employees.
You certainly know what uninspiring bosses do if you have them every day. They do not know what they are doing.
If you are a business owner, get the feedback of your people about the performance of your managers and supervisors.
Do it regularly.
Ninety-six percent of the information you will truly need comes from them.
The best managers and supervisors are not bosses. They are transformational leaders. They understand that their job in your company is not to report for work. Their main job is to help you develop leaders within the organization.
They are successful when their people can continue performing even in their absence.
(to be continued)
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