From Positional to Inspirational Leadership

The corporate world is moving around the word “Leadership”, I tried to get the definitions of leadership and got a number of choices from so many authors. All of the definitions showed a person with a charismatic personality having the ability to influence others, surrounded by strong values, skills, knowledge, and moral values. On the way of discovery, I thought, if one person is a leader then what is the name of the other one? “Follower” was the answer which means a follower is a person who follows a leader.. by choice, by birth, by position, or any other condition. I also read about a manager.

There were several definitions of “Manager” I personally opted for the manager by management definition, i.e. by defining management and it is the name of a process that includes management functions like Analysis, Objective setting, strategy & tactics, organizing, leading, and follow-up. In light of this definition, I was confused that leadership is a part of management function means a manager must possess leadership skills/qualities along with other skills. There was a time decades ago that there was a lot of comparison between a leader and a boss you might be well familiar with it. Nowadays I am surprised to see many Management Gurus comparing leaders vs managers, since as far as management definition is concerned leadership is part of management, therefore a good manager must possess leadership skills/qualities along with others qualities. While explaining leadership in some of my sessions I used to ask “how will you recognize yourself as a good leader?” If you are a leader then what is leadership to you, most of the participants used to describe the “leadership characteristics” or qualities as leadership., and most of the time I failed to get the answer to my question. Now to explain the difference between leadership and leadership qualities one has to define leadership first. The simple answer to what is leadership for me is “It is the art &science of influencing others to follow or do a certain job”.

Why one should follow?  the question arises naturally after understanding the leadership definition.  There could be two possibilities.

1.    Positional: In this scenario, the leadership is positional e.g. in an organizational hierarchy,  due to social /family virtue like his parents, elder brother sister, etc., in this case, the follower has the only choice to follow whether he agrees with his senior or not.

2.    By Choice i.e. any individual has opted to select a person as a leader. In this case, the followers are impressed first and then influenced by some desired qualities of another person which has resulted to set him as an inspirational leader.

In the second case where one individual opted for a person as a leader, he may be positional or non-positional due to the inspiration of certain qualities of other person possess, these impressive qualities which could be of any value to the follower consistency impress him and thus he is naturally influenced to follow him and he will be called as an inspirational leader.

The inspirational leader naturally or un-naturally influences you due to a set of desirable set of characteristics. These values depend upon the natural instinct of the follower. If a follower likes football so he will get impressed and influenced by a very good football player, if a follower likes fashion designing, he may not get impressed with a good football player but rather by a good fashion designer. Similarly in organizations, if you are an IT personnel you technically will be impressed and influenced by an expert IT personnel in the field of IT, but in some other characteristics like communication, and interpersonal skills you may get impressed and influenced by some other person in the organization if he didn’t find these qualities in that IT personal.

If the positional leader wants to be inspirational the first question is how will he recognize himself as inspirational? What is the parameter and how will he know that either he is been followed due to the power and authority he has, or his subordinates are inspired by him? One of my seniors answered me that there are several parameters by which you can recognize yourself as an inspirational leader is that just see whether your subordinate discusses his professional problems with you or not. If he comes to you often and discusses his personal and professional matters with you it means that he has accepted you as a leader, and as a leader, you have solutions to his problems. I think of myself and others in this view and found that normally we discuss our problems with our friends, family members, or someone in our circle may be out of the circle and see the solutions to our problems from them, it means that we are influenced by them hence we are accepting his leadership, even with the positional leader we may discuss our problems with them so we are genuinely accepting his leadership.

Positional leaders to inspirational leaders why it is important? Because even if you are positional your subordinate has to follow your instructions, in this case, if you are not developed as inspirational, they will be following your instructions without considering you as a genuine leader, they may doubt your abilities, they may follow the discipline but not by their heart since they have not seen you in the following discipline. Once they feel that you are the person who has better qualities, skills, and knowledge than them and all of your instructions are for the organization and their betterment they may follow you by their heart and will start copying your good qualities or may wish to follow your level. This role model will naturally ignite the will of doing better in your subordinates and I personally believe that once the passion is there they will try to excel in their field.

Zulfiqar Ali Qureshi

Business Consultant, Trainer,  Blogger, Author and a speaker!

Leave a Reply