Although my anniversary is coming up, this post is about another “L” word: Leadership. “Senior” people at Microsoft (and I assume at other companies) are expected to exhibit it. This is true for managers and non-managers alike (because, of course, management and leadership are completely different things). The problem is that Leadership is not as easy to find as some people think. I don’t believe that Leadership is something you’re born with – it’s something that you can learn – as long as you work very hard at it. It’s about building credibility and trust. It’s about moving people forward toward a vision (and having that vision in the first place). Good leaders inspire and make those around them better – they worry about reaching the goal much more than individual accomplishments.

Yet, I often see people try to become leaders in ways I can never imagie working. Some of the people I see are:

  • The Boss – “The Boss” determines that leadership involves a lot of telling people what to do. They are often self-proclaimed experts and use every opportunity they can find to tell people how much they know.
  • The Demander - “The Demander” expects that people will follow them because of their position or title. They don’t see the need to earn respect or establish credibility. They simply want to be known as a leader without actually leading.
  • The Micro-Leader - “The Micro-Leader” is like the classic micro-manager. They immerse themselves deeply into any project they can get involved in. They don’t do much, but they often claim they have.

I’m sure there are other ways to “claim” leadership. The only way I know is to work at it. It’s something I consciously work at every day, but an area where I barely know anything. But I keep working at it and keep trying to get better. I doubt I’ll ever figure it out – but I think that’s a good thing.