After reading the article below....Apply the three most important concepts you
have learned and how these concepts can be applied to Measurable
Learning Outcomes A and B
“Leadership, Leadership, Leadership”
Are We All Chanting the Wrong Mantra?
By Colm McCormack. February, 2009.
Is it Really “Leadership”?
What exactly does a leader do? We
are told he or she sets the vision for us.
They get us to move toward it. They
inspire us. They generate buy-in,
commitment and trust. But the actual
truth is that he or she manages the vision
of an organization, manages your
perception of them, manages their own
behavior and the way he or she
expresses attitudes and opinions. For
me, everyday leadership is simply
management of higher level things:
everything in life comes back to
And the truth is this: management
and leadership activities, roles, and
characteristics – in the overwhelming
majority of on-the-ground everyday
work places – are embodied in the one
person, not two different people.
I’ve devoted a full chapter to this
topic in: If You Cannot Manage Yourself
You Cannot Manage Others, the first
book in my “Just Manage It!” series.1
Our Stolen Focus
The focus of the business world
has been totally hijacked in recent years
by academics focusing on Leadership.
The overwhelming majority of research
on the topic is concentrated in and
emanates from the United States.
Leadership’s place on many business
college curricula is muscling out time
Go to: www.ColmMcCormack.com for FREE
chapter downloads and to order your copy.
usually devoted to other topics.
Everyone wants to be a Bill Clinton, a
Jack Welch, an Obama.
Hero worship has been so
absorbed into the western - particularly
the American - psyche. Everyone wants
to be a leader, a hero. Workers use the
term leader almost as a shortcut to
success: ‘That’s it – I’ll become a leader!’
I occasionally hear football
commentators referring to wide
receivers who catch a football or soccer
players who receive a pass as
“demonstrating real leadership”. Simply
The words ‘leader’ and ‘leadership’
have become far too fashionable. They
are bandied about with little care or
A manager who can manage
himself should be able to switch
between the various styles demanded
by the times. Most of us do not have the
luxury of switching managers whenever
the times dictate. There are employment
laws of varying strength in different
countries around the world. It takes
time to notice a shift in the external
environment. It takes time and expense
and upsets many apple carts ditching a
manager and replacing and training a
Just think about what a lot of
books out there are advocating: things
change so get a different person with a
© 2009 Colm McCormack 1
different style of leadership. Oh yeah?
Think time lag, cost, the effects on
everyone around the old and new
leader, the potential threat to the culture
of your company, etc. You might switch
leader but what else might you
Setting the Bar Too High
Leadership is of course an
important subject in an overall basket of
subjects. But there is the danger that
over emphasizing the subject sees us
setting the bar too high for ourselves in
normal everyday working life.
In recent times, the solution seems
to be this: “I’ll become a Jack Welch, a
Reagan, a Clinton, or an Obama. That’s
all I need. Become a leader”.
The truth of course is that not
everyone can become such people. But if
they said to themselves, “I’ll manage like
Jack Welch, or Reagan, or Clinton, or
Obama”, a more realistic objective
Diving In With Both Feet
There are three things to keep in
mind when looking at people diving
into all the leadership books:
Many believe leadership is all they
need to study to become successful
They think this will give them a
short-cut to the top
Current successful leaders in the
public eye offer up a mirage: you
don’t see the years of hard work,
dedication, commitment, and failure
that went into getting them to where
they are. A 300-page book won’t get
you past all that stuff.
Don’t Forget About the Barriers
There are times when leadership
simply cannot take place. Rules,
agreements, stipulations – and more -
can act as leadership substitutes.
Sometimes people are so well trained,
and/or the workplace so well
systemized and optimized that
leadership is down right unnecessary.
But you’ll always have to manage
yourself. You’ll always have to manage
communications, attitudes, perspectives,
the way other people interact with you
and amongst themselves. Management
is a more common requirement than
The Irony of Management
The weird part in all of this is that
very often when you come to be seen as
a truly effective manager, people stick
the “leader” label on you.
This is why I tell people not to
worry about setting themselves up as a
leader. Manage yourself effectively,
adopt context suitable approaches to
situations, and – over time – the
leadership label will be handed to you.
Again, I am firmly of the view that
leadership is simply the management of
higher order things: it’s all management.
Read any leadership book out there and
it seems the words “manager” and
“management” pop up more than the
word “leader”. A leader and a manager
are the same person.
Old Wine in New Bottles
It is far too easy to arrive at the
mistaken assumption that becoming
successful and effective is simply a
matter of studying leadership. The
bookshelves are stacked with titles that
© 2009 Colm McCormack 2
give off this impression and they’re
being read by time-pressed individuals
seeking the ultimate quick fix. But these
books are simply teaching management.
Has the word management become so
unpalatable that we must now teach it
through the back door – under a
Colm McCormack has lectured in Management, Strategic Management, and Leadership on MBA and
continuing education programs. He has consulted for numerous companies and Mentored business owners.
He is the author of the “Just Manage It!” series of Business & Management books. Visit
www.ColmMcCormack.com to download FREE chapters, to view key concepts and models, and to
purchase Books from the series.
© 2009 Colm McCormack 3