Leadership: Believing in others as a way of life
Leadership as a belief in others
there are two models of leadership that I am directly familiar with.
The first is the leadership quality model which treats leadership as a quality manifested by the leader, often composed of subordinate virtues like honesty, loyalty, competence, empathy. In this sense leadership could be considered a state of being.
The second model is one of technique usually described as a form of situational leadership in which a leader applies the appropriate technique based on a diagnosis of the situation, who the people are who are being led, and the necessary form of a successful outcome.
The idea of believing in people seems to be directly related to leadership in my experience and doesn’t fit into either category. I say this based on some personal experiences which I’ll describe.
I can think of it a number of circumstances in which my leaders believed in me and my potential . It motivated me to perform at a level higher than I thought was possible. What unites these cases is that my leader was a significant other to me, whose opinion I respected and whose approval I sought.
Another essential element was the element of risk and authenticity. I knew that my leaders trust in me had consequences for them which affirmed my belief in the authenticity of their belief because they have something to lose if they were wrong. In other words, these are not just empty words there was real meaning in the outcome.
Taken together these contributed to my motivation and determination and made the difference in my final performance.
As a leader myself I have seen the difference in trying to replicate a technique and manifesting a true inner belief in others. In my experience, your subordinates can sense a lack of authenticity a mile away.
I think the topic of belief in people is tied to leadership because it places it in a situation in which hierarchies matter, outcomes matter, risk is taken in the consequences are in doubt.
I don’t think belief in others is pure leadership quality like in the quality model because it takes on the context of the situation to establish the importance of the belief in the risk that the leader is taking. I think it’s a leadership matter because the trust must come from the leader first to be truly motivational.
It’s not something the subordinate can request or requisition but it must come flowing from the leader to the subordinate.