Who Leads at Your Workplace?

Tiina Leino. Image: Antti Partanen

Have you ever wondered how leadership in your organisation actually emerges, is visible, and has an impact? Have you looked also beyond the formal leadership titles?

Leadership is about Interaction

Leadership emerges through social interaction with others and is earned from others through these acts of leadership. Leadership cannot be demanded but is given by others based on how they judge the actor’s competence, personality, performance and so on.

Leadership is earned through a long-term interaction with others, and at its core is trust. Trust, in turn, frees individuals to be creative, i.e. to use their full competence in their work.

To abandon control is to rely on the expertise of others.

Informal Leadership is also Leadership Work

Not all leading and leadership involve a formal leadership position. Have you noticed any individuals in your organisation who seem to be at the heart of issues? Whose perspectives are listened to by others? Who lead collective work without a formal leadership position? These individuals may have earned informal leadership
in your organisation. And research shows they are an asset to you.

Informal leaders excel in possessing deep knowledge, dialogic communication skills and trust earned from others.
It is precisely because of their advanced knowledge that they end up voluntarily leading collective work in groups, workplaces, with customers. This work, which often is invisible or taken for granted, contributes to the functioning,
innovation, productivity and creativity of workplaces. What if by freeing the competence in informal leadership is the key to a needed productivity development?

Why is Letting go of Control Important?

To abandon control is to rely on the expertise of others. It takes courage to be open to the views and skills of others. I think being open to others is a strength. It also requires stepping into uncertainty when not everything is in your control.

In utilising competence, formal leaders need to support, among other things, diversity of skills, collaboration and autonomy. This frees individuals and work communities to innovate, take responsibility and use the skills freed from roles for the benefit of the organisation. This diversity in the workplace supports performance.

Tiina Leino

PhD Researcher

Satakunta Chamber of Commerce magazine 2/2024 Column