Have you ever been notionally in charge, but the people seem to have a will of their own?
I was recently at a gig with thousands of others all enthusiastically singing along. Trouble is the band’s vocals were hard to pick out in the mix. Basically the excellent drummer drowned them out a bit.
Because the punters knew the songs so well, we were all belting them out. The lead singer, being a creative music type, wanted to do something a bit different. Whilst he tried that, the rest of us were doing the regular version! So at that point he was not actually leading, because we weren’t following.
Have you ever seen this happen in business? It’s quite entertaining in a gig, and the band leader grinned and showed good grace, but it is not very funny when you are trying to lead your organisation and people don’t seem to respond.
Some organisations are well-stocked with competent people. They have a momentum of their own. It can be difficult to change direction. Sometimes, when we think we are leading, the thing is actually running itself.
If we want to sing a different song, or with a different arrangement, we have to cue the change audibly, and a bit more deliberately and in advance.
Is it when change is required that leadership ability is really tested?