Some CEOs make a lot of money. Their Vice Presidents don’t usually make as much, and the directors, managers, and other leadership positions still further down the organizational food-chain make even less.

I know, I know… you’re thinking “Well duh, Kevin; did you come up with that ‘blinding flash of the obvious’ on your own, or did you have help?”

My question here isn’t about the dinero, per se. And it’s not about relative value among leaders. No, my question is about the absolute value of leadership. Is the absolute value of a senior leader greater than that of a less senior leader to those s/he leads?

I think not. In fact, not just no, but hell no.

Like many of you, I travel frequently, and I thought about this question when I boarded a puddle-jumper for the 51 minute flight from Houston to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It occurred to me then, that the pilot of this 24-passenger prop-job likely made considerably less money than the pilot of the 737 I’m on right now.

But if he screws up, I’m just as dead as if he had made twice the money.

In other words, to the recipient of the leadership behavior, it doesn’t matter that some other leader may make more money, have a bigger office, or have a fancier title.  In our selfish, singular worlds, what matters is how that leader leads… to me. Right now.

Think about it…

  • All leaders must create and leverage relationships to succeed, and
  • All leaders are responsible for developing employees so they can support and succeed at their vision, and
  • All leaders personally and directly affect the total career and employment environment of those they lead.

Just like those pilots, who regardless of the size of their aircraft or wallet, personally and directly affect my safety as a passenger.

In other words, the impact you have on the people you lead, as individual people, doesn’t increase/decrease based on the scope, title or compensation. Or even your place on an org chart.

So, then, if I were to continue my unsavory double entendre approach to this article – all the while you keeping your mind out of the gutter – I might say that it’s not the size of the leader that matters, but what the leader does with that size that really counts.

Yes, I might say that…

(a related article on being courageous as a leader, can be seen on my blog, The Brazen Leader.)

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