Jun 2, 2016

Lessons Learned #2: Leadership is a Function, Not a Person or Position

America has a love affair with the headmaster.  Or college president.  Or, maybe the board of trustees chair.  But, those are roles, explicit positions within an organization.  And, while they demonstrate leadership capabilities and execute leadership functions, they are not the sole providers of organizational leadership.

One thing I’ve learned after traveling to so many schools and colleges is that most people have leadership solely connected to a person or a position.  Leadership is a function, not a position, and excellent leadership functions at mature schools and colleges have a thoughtful, intentional culture of cultivating leadership.  A good example is the many college athletic programs that groom the “coach in waiting” or “athletic director in waiting” as a way to maintain a thoughtful system or culture of leadership.  It is their way of maintaining a steady approach to leadership that is not subject to the whim of a personality or leader of the moment.  

Look, the school or college is going to be around long after the current leaders leave their roles.  The best and most mature organizations think of leadership as a strategic function of maintaining and carrying their culture forward.  And, they plan for it.  Lessons Learned #2?  Leadership is a function, not a person or position.

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