I like Amazon for several things. One of them is because that they have what they call their ‘leadership principles’. They expect everyone to be a leader and not a regular employee. Many organizations miss this.
If everyone is a leader, it is easier to create a simple organization that will achieve amazing results.
But the problem is in the organizations themselves. They do not let their employees become leaders. They call their management leaders and their employees – well, employees, or some other fancy name.
It is easy to be an employee. Employees can easily go unnoticed and follow others, never initiate an action, and wait for others to decide, and always put themselves first before others. But leaders cannot do this. They are always visible, even when they fail. They need to make others believe in them and not follow them. They are proactive and create a sense of urgency yet make things calm and peaceful. More importantly, they put others above themselves.
This may irk some managers but let me get some things straight. Even if you do not have anyone reporting to you or even if you are the junior-most person in your organization or team, you can be a leader.
But leadership is not easy. That is why everyone is not a leader. Leadership is not easy because leaders need to be accountable and very few people are OK with accountability. Leaders will be measured against extremely high standards and not everyone is OK with these extremely high standards. Leaders will need to continuously improve, and many are OK with being where they are. Leaders will also need to take unpleasant decisions, but many are OK with being popular and avoid confrontation than be unpopular. And that is why we see many people still being OK as employees and not as leaders.
If you want to be a simple organization, treat your people as leaders and not as employees. Give them accountability. Let them lead and when they fail, do not admonish them. Let them be OK taking tough decisions. And more importantly, call them leaders and not employees.