If you have ever worked for someone, and most of us have, you are likely familiar with the concept of an “organizational chart.” It defines who reports to whom. I could write an entire blog about how important it is for an organization to define who is taking responsibility for what. Clearly defined goals and objectives, concrete action steps, and accountability are essential for success. An idea is just an idea unless someone takes ownership for making it happen.
Assuming a leadership role, climbing higher on the org chart, is exhilarating. You may have a stronger voice in decisions. You may have more autonomy.
One thing I have learned over the years though from leaders I admire most is how narrow in scope the organizational chart really is. It is about accountability and supervision. It is about departmentalization and line of succession. It is not in any way, shape or form about kindness or respect or doing what needs to be done in the moment.
The best leaders at every level are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work. Principals are wiping off cafeteria tables at lunch and sweeping the floor between basketball games. Servant leadership is a term thrown around frequently today. True servant leaders are the ones who embrace every opportunity to serve the organization and the people within it. Do you walk by the paper on the floor in the hallway? Is picking it up someone else’s job?
The best leaders are kind and caring and respectful to everyone in the organization at every level. They know the CEO’s name, and they know the name of every person on the custodial night crew. Character is defined by what you do for and how you treat people who can do nothing to advance your career. Do you truly demonstrate respect for everyone?
Leading is hard work, and the higher you are on the org chart, the more you have to be willing to accept responsibility.
But the organizational chart has nothing to do with how you treat people or how others treat you. The best leaders understand that!