When our daughter was a wee tot we bought her a 4-wheel scooter for Christmas.  It unfortunately came with those three dreaded words, “Some assembly required.”  Giving it to her in the box and letting her put it together herself would have been an option. But I really didn’t want to have her using my tools at her young age, and run the risk of her showing me how they’re supposed to be used.
So I set about assembling the thing myself.  In the process of jointly building a scooter and character, I discovered a part was missing.  The instructions had an address to write to if a part was defective or missing.  I put the new toy together without the part for Christmas, and then sent the company the following letter.

Twas the night before Christmas and under the tree
Sat a Playskool Tyke Bike, a screwdriver and me.
The bike was in parts all snug in its box.
I began to assemble it with no major shocks.

When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter.
My wife ran to the room to see what was the matter.
“I can not complete this!” she heard me to say,
“I’m missing part 231-21a.”

Well, I put it together the best that I could,
Though my poor daughter could not steer it so good.
So you see, you would be a dear friend,
If part 231-21a you would send.

One day a package arrived in the mail.  I was surprised by the size, it was larger than the part I had requested.  On opening it I saw they had sent not just the part but a new bike.  It too needed to be assembled, but that was fine with me.  In the package was a form that the company used to indicate which part they were sending.  The form was crossed out, and handwritten across the bottom was the note, “Send whole unit.”

May your Christmas be completely merry, even if it’s not completely perfect.

Let the leaders lead!

Too often a situation calls upon a person to lead, but they do nothing.  They incorrectly assume that leadership is a position, a position they’re not in.  So they wait, wondering why ‘someone’ doesn’t do something.

Too often a person is restrained from showing leadership by an insecure manager that feels threatened by the person’s attempt to lead.  The manager incorrectly assumes that leadership is a position, their position, and the person must be after their job.  Or the manager is just afraid that if the person leads, the manager will lose control, control they don’t have anyway.

Too often a person steps up to lead and they struggle.  They’re not prepared because the leadership training was reserved for those in management.  And when the person tries to find information on leadership, the material in the category of “Leadership” is really about management, and the good material on leadership is categorized under “Management.”

Too often a person steps up to lead, does well but then gets no credit for it.  Others incorrectly assume that leadership is a position, and that person is not in such a position, so it must have been someone else who made the difference.  And it is sad when the person who led well is discouraged by the whole thing, and hesitates the next time they’re called upon to lead.

It is not often at all that someone is an excellent manager and an excellent leader.  But too often these rare folks aren’t recognized for their leadership ability.  People incorrectly assume their leadership skills are part of their position as a manager.  And the manager/leader never achieves the full measure of their incredible potential.

There is a shortage of leadership.  However, there is no shortage of leaders.  So many leaders are unfortunately trapped by misconceptions around what leadership is and is not.  If we could find a way to untangle the passion of leadership from the position of management, it would free people to be the leaders they are called to be.  And the world would find the leadership it seeks, not just from those in authority, but from people all around.  And most importantly we would find it in ourselves.

Management is a job.  Leadership is life.