• Mirjami Sipponen-Damonte

Leadership is not anymore for bosses only

People don’t leave jobs but bosses. This saying may sound a cliché, but at the same time it is more true than ever. When there is tough competition of skilled experts, the leadership culture is a significant differentiating factor. It is transmitted in employer image and it directly impacts the team wellbeing and performance.

On the other hand, leadership is not anymore for bosses only, but it is distributed to a much wider group within organizations. Leadership is about influencing different types of stakeholders. It is about creating commitment amongst representatives of business units or departments, clients, suppliers or, for example, institutions that educate the future work force, to a common goal.

If your own role or achievement of your goals requires activating other people towards a certain destination, we are talking about leadership – and activating people rarely succeeds through one-way communication. Not because people are stubborn, but because we observe things from different angles, experiences and frameworks. What may be obvious to you, isn’t that for me. What is well motivated to you may not mean anything to me.

When there are more than one person in an interaction situation, misunderstandings inevitably take place. In addition to this we get motivated of different things and have different priorities. And for many of us our survival instinct tells us to avoid doing things we don’t understand, we feel uncomfortable or are afraid of. The positive side of this is that when we understand what a change is about, what are the reasons and benefits behind it and feel that we have control over it, we are motivated to act.

In today’s world time makes the difference. There’s no time to dwell on things endlessly; fast results are needed. This is why it is worth involving early on those people who impact the achievement of the end result, to enable them to plan, question, strengthen their understanding, influence and become committed. This way the change is put in motion already in the planning phase, instead of the traditional “management decides, implements the decisions to the organization and wonders why people don’t act accordingly” model.

This is a small tasting of my book on facilitation & participatory leadership that will be published in April (in Finnish). More information of the book can be found here.


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  • Mirjami Sipponen-Damonte