‘Leadership should be about “convening,” he says, “not command and control.”
Convening? This came as a surprise to Harper, most Canadians and the dictionary people, all of whom have laboured under the apparent misconception that leadership is about, you know, leading. Nope—turns out it’s about building “networks of responsibilities that are focused on outcomes.” Translation: if Ignatieff had given Churchill’s wartime speeches, he would have vowed to “facilitate the pursuit of satisfactory outcomes upon the beaches, streets and other relevant jurisdictions.” ‘
– Scott Feschuk talking about Michael Ignatieff’s definition of leadership, “Hint: one of them has a moustache”, MacLean’s, published April 28 2010, site visited October 14 2010. Emphasis on “leading” in the original.
That passage from Feschuk’s column is one of the most succinct explanations I’ve ever seen for why “I’ll ask around and get back to you” does not consitute leadership.
Sadly, the leadership-by-consensus (or management-by-committee if you’re encountering this mindset in the business world) approach is pretty widespread in . . . pretty much everywhere. Politics, business, volunteer organizations, and just figuring out where we’re all going to have a drink after work, all of those areas suffer from people who can’t or won’t make a decision until they’ve had a meeting about it.
No, it’s not good when leaders never ask for input and are making spur-of-the-moment decisions about every single topic that comes up.
But, at the same time, somewhere within any leader’s job description — whether written, spoken, or just implied — is the expectation that they will actually lead.