The dictionary definition of mandate is an official order or commission to do something. It confers authority on the holder to carry out certain tasks or policies. What happens, though, if you are nominally in a position of leadership but you have no mandate? Can you still perform effective leadership without one, and if so, how?
What Does Leadership Mean?
What Melinda points out is that leaders do not become effective due to rank, or privilege, but by assuming the responsibility for leadership.
“A title, or a mandate, gives you the potential to lead, but it does not automatically make you a leader,” she states.
“The true power of effective leadership is in being able to influence others, but for this to work it must come from a place of responsibility, not just a position of authority”
“The danger if you are leading by position alone is that you undermine meaningful relationships with those you’re supposed to be leading,” Melinda explains. “This can erode trust, prevent you empathising with others, and frustrate their creativity and potential for innovation.”
A mandate that bestows authority is not, therefore, necessarily essential for effective leadership, but other qualities are.
How do you Influence Others?
Effective leadership comes from influence and not from authority. Leaders may find they develop authority by wielding influence, but it is influence that counts.
“Exercising control over others is not the same as influencing them, and it means you aren’t carrying them with you so that they share your objectives”
Influence comes from leaders caring about the impact of their actions on others, and about the quality of the relationships they build and maintain.
To hone your leadership skills means improving your influence, because a rank, position or mandate will not do it for you. True leaders empower others rather than control them, and by doing this, they empower themselves.
“Consider taking the necessary time out to reflect on your leadership behaviours, or consider a temporary change in environment like a retreat.
“Effective leadership is achieved by not being afraid to ask for help yourself,” Melinda concludes, “earning the respect and trust of others, and building a consensus and a shared set of objectives.”
If you want to enhance your leadership skills: