Are You a LITO – a Leader in Title Only?
Updated: Jul 18
By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus
Thirty years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to hear the term Leadership used in any frequency, other than by the military or a sports team. Management and Supervision were the preferred terms, used to describe the activities and skills of individuals in positions of responsibility.
Today, Leadership is everywhere! Like most things in America that become popular, overuse and saturation is what we embrace until we squeeze every drop out of a new term, phrase, hairstyle, clothing fad, investment strategy, TV show genre, or diet program.
So, it should be no surprise that the same process has happened to Leadership. Just take a quick tour on one of the most popular job search platforms, Indeed, and type in Leadership. The top listings include:
Social Media Coordinator
Program Evaluation Analyst
Book Club Coordinator
Family Foundations Specialist
These results beg the question: do we believe that everyone is a leader? At the Joshua Group Consulting, we do. We believe you start by leading yourself. However, that is wholly different from the job position of a Social Media Coordinator! Nothing against the job or person that performs social media coordination, but coordinating is not leading. Dispatching is not leading. Scheduling is not leading. And so on. As a consulting firm, we hear the statement daily, “Our leaders are not holding their people accountable,” and then they ask us for recommendations. As consultants, we are trained to investigate the questions posed before offering any solutions. As coaches, we are trained to ask questions of our clients to help them find their correct solution. In either case, it almost always ends up that the individuals being accused of not holding people accountable are not leaders in the first place. They have not been given any training on leadership skills. They have not been empowered to lead in their respective positions. And in many cases, what their companies are calling leaders are really just high-producing individual contributors. So, can we really blame the employees for not doing something as difficult as holding others accountable for their actions?
In our current society, holding someone accountable is synonymous with conflict. Just a quick glance at the news headlines will tell you how conflict is resolved in our society. So, can we blame someone for not having the natural ability to engage in acceptable conflict resolution? That would be a leadership skill, that most likely would need to be taught in order to gain proficiency.
At the very basic level, leadership can be defined as the ability to influence and motivate others to move in a common direction to achieve a common goal. Therefore, if the individual does not possess the skills to motivate others, to influence people, to inspire others to set aside self interest for common interest, and to cast the vision of the common goal, then they are a leader in title only. Or in today’s vernacular – a LITO.
So before we get frustrated with others for not LEADING, let us, as leaders, ensure that our teams are properly trained, adequately resourced, effectively communicated with, and empowered to do the job of leading that we aspire for them to do! Otherwise, we may be the LITOs in the organization and thus the real source of the lack of accountability!
If you want to know if you are a LITO or how to have more accountability within your organization, we have surveys and assessments and consulting services that will give you the answers, as well as an open line of communication at hello@TheJoshuaGroupConsulting.com!