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Leadership is more than delegation

, September 12, 2014, 0 Comments

leadership marketexpress-inHave you read this anecdote about George Washington which was said to have transpired during the American Revolutionary War? It is said that one rainy day, during the war, George Washington, riding in civilian clothes came upon a group of soldiers attempting to raise a wooded beam to a high position. The corporal in charge was shouting encouragement and then finally threatening the men with punishments; if the task was not completed within the hour. Despite countless attempts the soldiers couldn’t get the beam in position.

After watching their lack of success, Washington asked the corporal, who had not recognized him, as to why he didn’t join in and help, to which the corporal replied, “Don’t you realize that I am the corporal? I am in charge. The men do as I tell them ”adding, Help them yourself if you feel strongly about it.”

To the corporal’s surprise , the stranger dismounted and helped the men until the job was finished. General George Washington then wiped perspiration from his face, and said “If you should need help again, call on Washington, your commander-in-chief, and I will come” Up close, the corporal now recognized General Washington, and also the lesson he’d just been taught.

Leadership is commonly associated with strategy, vision and above all followers  Newly minted leaders often believe that vertical growth finally means the divestment of mundane tasks from their brief.

They often fear that getting down in the trenches with the common folk and getting their hands dirty could lead to dilution of their position and the aura of mystic and authority that surrounds them.

But is it so? Working alongside your team when push comes to shove creates a sense of camaraderie that bodes well for a team during trying circumstances. The members always know and trust that they have a leader who does right by them, stands by them. This creates vigor and enthusiasm rather than disdain.

Doesn’t mean you always roll up your sleeves and do the work of those reporting in to you. The guidelines of delegation and empowerment that usually exists in a team are sacrosanct for a leader to focus his / her team in the right direction. However appreciating that leadership is more than just delegation is important for those leaders who consistently put the needs of their teams first and are interested in building competitive yet self-sustaining and collaborative teams.