2.2%. That is the percentage of people in the US who are managers.*
Can we afford to suggest that only managers can be leaders? No. The need for leaders is far greater than 2.2%. But every time the word ‘leader’ is used as a synonym for ‘manager’ it sends a message that the other 97.8% cannot be leaders simply because they are not managers. And when ‘leader’ is used to refer to an executive manager it restricts the number even further down to 0.76% of the US population.
First of all it is unfair to managers to expect that they alone can fully meet the needs of leadership, especially considering that typically they are already laden with immense responsibilities. And it’s unfair to all those who want to make a difference but are inhibited from doing so simply because they don’t have an acceptable job title.
What percentage of people should see themselves as leaders? 100%! The longing to matter and make a difference is part of our inherent need to adapt and grow. To suggest to anyone that they cannot be a leader denies them the opportunity to live a fulfilling life.
43.6%. That is the percentage of the US population that is employed.*
Can we afford to suggest that leadership only happens in the workplace? No. The need for leadership is greater than 43.6%. Leadership doesn’t have to happen within an organization. Leadership happens in relationship, in the space between one and another.
Leadership is about so much more than business. Leadership is life size. It can come from anyone and it serves everyone. We need to talk about how leadership happens within organizations but it is just as important to talk about how leadership happens outside of organizations.
Whenever you use the word ‘leader’ or ‘leadership’ make sure that you are indeed talking about leadership. Call it what it is because it matters. The need for leaders and for leadership is far too great to stuff it inside a few boxes on an org chart. The need is 100%.
* The numbers are based on the 2017 US population compared to the “May 2017 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.” www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm While the numbers are only for the US the concern applies globally.