Edward Lewellen en Leadership, Directors and Executives, Human Resources Professionals President • Transformative Thinking 31/10/2017 · 3 min de lectura · 1,0K

Leadership by Osmosis

Leadership by Osmosis You've seen it before...the young man or woman who is beginning their career and they are the star performer where they work. It could be at Ernst and Young, Lockheed-Martin, Target, or McDonald's; you see the drive and ambition in their eyes, the confidence in their steps, the eagerness in their attitude. And, when you ask them what they want to accomplish next in their career and, without a moment of hesitation and with great enthusiasm, the answer is "To get promoted to manager!"

When you ask one of these individuals what is the underlying cause for their desire to manage others, many times the real answer eludes them. They come up with superficial answers like "More money" and "Have a title".

What they don't realize is that all human behaviors are outcome-focused, which means that these people believe that they will get to feel a specific way because managing others will allow them to feel and behave differently.  This a common denominator, whether they are employed at a large international firm or the local franchise down the street. So, what are the real reasons for wanting to manage others, since they want to feel a certain way? Here are a few thoughts:

  • In control
  • Feel Important
  • Free from someone else's management
  • They can do what they want

But, there are additional reasons, such as:

  • Help others to become better
  • They have a vision to lead others toward
  • Contribute through positive changes

What did you notice that was different about the two sets of reasons?  The first set is inward-focused, the second is outward-focused.  And, my friends, that is the where I start to define the biggest obstacle to leading others, when the reason a person wants to lead others stems from in inward focus.
Not surprisingly, people whose reasons for managing others that are inward-focused are found to lead and manage themselves in the same way.  It's all about them.  Where do they learn this inward-focused approach?  It could be from multiple sources and here are the two sources I believe are most common:


People imitate or emulate what they see others doing.  So, after having observed their parents style of leadership, they believe it must be the right way to lead.  Now, if you're the only child or the first child in a family, then you know you were the "experiment", right?  Your parents had observed their parents and probably implemented their style of leadership.  But, they still made many mistakes in an effort to raise you "correctly".  Here are some of the "errors" they may have committed:

  • Going into frantic mode when the situation wasn't that critical
  • Disciplining out of emotion, rather out of the desire to progress your development
  • Telling you, "Do as I say, not as I do"
  • Telling you, "I'm the parent, so you have to obey me"

What about at work?  Unfortunately, you may have experienced the following from your boss/manager:

  • Going into frantic mode when the situation wasn't that critical
  • Disciplining out of emotion, rather out of the desire to progress your development
  • Telling you, "Do as I say, not as I do"
  • Telling you, "I'm the boss, so you have to obey me"

Why the similarity?  Although there are parenting classes available, personally, I've never actually met anyone that took them.  Have you?  So, parents usually perpetuate their family's parenting traditions.  How hard can it be? So, at work, you worked hard to excel and now you're being offered a promotion.  How hard can managing/leading others be?
Although there is a wealth of Management and Leadership training available and easily accessible, my experience is that it is the rare organization that actually sends new managers/leaders to Management or Leadership training immediately following their promotion, if ever.  It is even more rare to find a quality leadership mentoring program in organizations of any size.  It's as if top executives believe that there is a "Leadership Osmosis" that occurs at the time of the promotion of a person into a management/leadership position.  Because of this, the characteristics of the current managers/leaders in an organization are imitated, emulated, and amplified, both good and bad.  What traits will be imitated, emulated and amplified will depend on the real reasons a person wants to be in a management/leadership position.
To exacerbate the problem even more, recent discoveries by neuroscience tell us that the leadership and management training that was assumed to be effective, is now being shown to be totally counterproductive!  Notice these results of a Harris Interactive Poll about the effectiveness of American corporations in leading their people:

  • 63% are unclear of what their organization is trying to achieve
  • 80% are unenthusiastic about their team’s and organization’s goals
  • 80% of workers are unclear about their “line-of-sight” between their tasks and their team’s and organization’s goals
  • 50% were happy with the work they accomplish at the end of each week
  • 85% feel that the organization doesn't enable them to execute key goals
  • 83% don't feel their organization fosters open communication
  • 90% don't feel their organization holds people accountable for results
  • 80% don't trust the organization they work for
  • 87% have low-trust, non-cooperative working relationships with other groups or departments

Here's further information regarding neuroscience's discoveries:

Most processes operating when the brain is at rest involve thinking about other people and yourself
  • Social situations (e.g., work) can stimulate the "Threat Response" causing impaired analytical thinking, creativity, and problem solving.
  • Too much uncertainty diminishes memory, undermines performance, and disengages people from the present.
  • People who are reprimanded, given an assignment that seems unworthy, or told to take a pay cut experience a neural impulse as powerful as a blow to the head.

So, what can organizations do to train their people in leadership roles to be the most effective?  Is it possible to change the culture of an organization and leadership style of leaders?  And, finally, what the heck is neural plasticity?

If you would like to find out more, now is the time to reach out to me and massively transform your leadership culture to one that creates exponential positive results!  In the meantime, click on this link now to get a Special Report on The Ultimate Business Trifecta.

Please feel free to comment and share this post!

+++++++++++++++About Dr. Edward Lewellen++++++++++++++++

Dr. Edward Lewellen is an expert in creating methodologies for people to learn to use their mind; their beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors, and put them back in control of their lives and become top-producers. He is a Master Executive Coach, leadership and sales expert, and keynote speaker for some of the largest global organizations.

Author of:

Life Mastery: The Fully Functional Life

The 90-Second Mind Manager

Harvey Lloyd 1/11/2017 · #6

#5 Agreed. My elements are probably a bit different than your own. Small business creates an environment that needs leadership yet can't pay the top educational crowd wages. So my comments are based upon this foundation. At your level i would probably go ape you know what.

We do hire folks who have completed four year degrees and some master's level degrees in education. We have had a few that were educated in school administration. My favorite part to watch was when they set expectations with the team like sergeants in the army they were dismayed at the limited results. They would ask for insight.

But when given they acted as though i had insulted them when discussing human nature and how to communicate. In essence they showed me their degree and experience. I learned a lot about myself and others through the process.

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Edward Lewellen 1/11/2017 · #5

#3 Yes, @Harvey Lloyd, the "fun" does begin! It's amazing corporate executives haven't figured this out, yet. Imagine the cost savings if they implemented at least basic Leadership training.

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Harvey Lloyd 1/11/2017 · #4

Some insight and data as new leaders and managers step into their roles.

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Harvey Lloyd 1/11/2017 · #3

This is excellent insight into the transition from employee-manager-leader. What i find with most newly promoted leaders is their inability to recognise that others also have a concept of existence, just like they do.

Many new manager/leaders i discussed progress with felt that their charge were undermining them as they projected their own image upon the team. Although i appreciate the unique brand concept, i also recognise that most leadership issues are because of the concept.

My first thought is you have to recognise them as unique. New manager/leaders tend to see the team as homogeneous in purpose, social and concept. Your osmosis point is correct in that the newly minted manager/leader thinks by having the title they gain a direct wifi connection to their charge with one way communications.

Then the feedback loop happens. The fun begins.

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Edward Lewellen 31/10/2017 · #2

And, you are a wonderful example of the service-focused leadership, dear Ali Anani!

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Great buzz on leadershipvdearv@edward lewellen. I liked very much your categorization of inward and outward leadership. The latter one is self-focused and ignores that real leadership is to serve others.

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