Positional Authority is ... "from an org chart" ?

This week has brought a ton of new perspective into my life with a job search after notice that my leadership role will be eliminated for "efficiency" in July.  I'm not in love with the change forced upon me, nor the decision of the person who made it, but I understand it.   Do "people" and "institutions" see the value of servant leaders, or do they gravitate to the rhetoric of performance and the inherent energy wave of great speeches, and personal charisma? Perhaps my performance training and experience prepared me for this sort of emotional roller coaster ride. It doesn't make it easier, but is helps me to understand and deal with it.

In the singing world, musicians and artists are subjected to positional authority every time they audition, every time they go to a rehearsal. It is a learned response from lessons, coachings, and education at an early age.  Someone else always knows more, is the authority, is the expert, or is simply "in charge".  The hope is that the things which the experts and leaders know, are what matters in the end... That is a good question to think on further for the future of the arts. Do they get it?   

Someone does indeed have to make decisions for things to happen. I often joke that I have problems with authority anytime I'm not the person in authority.  I got that from Bill O'reilly in his book "Bold, Fresh" and I admit there is more truth buried in there than I openly admit.  However, because of my "problem" I have developed a coping mechanism rooted in transparency and earned respect which has proven itself time and time again. This perspective shields me personally but makes my life hard sometimes. It would be so much easier to simply fit into the machine...play my role.. and tow the line. C'est la vie.. I am not built to ever just fit in to the system, for better or worse. I am a tranformation specialist, who is always seeking to make the system and the results better.. every day, every minute... For me, the day that you are good enough, is the day that you should probably begin your retirement.  I will never be good enough, as my life's goal is the journey not some objective end..

Positional authority wanes with politics and the times.  People with REAL power are those who get things done, take care of themselves and others, and find ways to succeed despite and often in spite of those with the positional power.  I have spent a long time now, building my "authority" based on accomplishments outside "the system", on my own, one person at a time, one opportunity at a time. It makes me feel good to do it on my own, but it is hard to say the least. Perhaps, it is harder than it needs to be.

I stick by the line that you shouldn't have to tell people how good you are.. if you really are that good, then they will see it on their own.  I believe in people to recognize talent, achievement, results, and even intentions.. That may be a flawed approach, but it is now deeply seated in my leadership model, my theology, and my daily actions.  It would seem that social media and the advent of real time connections via FB, Twitter, and even blogs.. the most valuable would be more easily recognized... I'm not sure of that anymore, but I am hopeful.

It is a hard and slow road to build a network of influence based on a lifetime of service, discipline and hard work. Just think, the idea that you would have to prove your worth before being granted authority or reward is almost foreign in our current culture of meism, real time rewards... Even after achieving a position, we should realize that we have to constantly reearn it with results, sort of like playing king of the hill as a child.

Position only grants the reality of challenge, of struggle, to "stay on top".. Real leadership is granted because the leader is the servant and those being led know it. The supposed power is granted freely and the burden is heavy.The servant leader understands politics, and the dynamics of need, but has learned that they are a cruel master.  He/She must lead by example, from the "front of the chevron" into battle, surrender, defeat, or victory. Despite the outcome, the servant leader cannot be deposed because the power comes from those being led, not from the position.

Positional power is indeed earned, but it is subjective and fleeting. Institutions fail because leaders embrace positional power over influence and servanthood.  Leaders fail because they replace their humility and earned competency with hubris.

Command just doesn't mean what most people think it does. 


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