Why i do not hire leaders

Dealing with the term leadership is essential when you are hiring and building a software engineering team. I realized that some software engineers want to be hired in a leadership position, on the other side there are some companies which offer leadership positions. In this post i will try to explain why i do not agree with both sides.

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First, let me choose a definition of Leadership. Indeed there are plenty of definitions of this term made by different people, some of those definitions sound even poetic. The definition from which i think that it perfectly hits the point is the following: Leadership is the process of influencing other people to move in the right direction. This definition implies two skills, the ability to influence people and the aptitude for recognizing the right direction.
Talking about Leadership, it is important to distinguish it from Management. As a Manager you deal with things, while as a leader you deal with people.

Leadership is not something that anyone can give you, you have to earn it. Leadership has nothing to do with title, hierarchy, age, salary or years spent in the Job. In the last years, i worked with some young students in my team who were able to influence others to move in the right direction, well, they were literally leaders.

Being a leader in your previous job A doesn’t mean you are automatically a leader in your new job B. It only means that you have good chance to become a leader in job B. Because the people you need to deal with and influence in job B are not the same and also the right direction in job B is not necessarily the same one as in job A.

My recommendation to job seekers is not to insist on getting a leadership position. You should rather take the job you like most and if you behave like a leader, it is very hard to stop you from becoming one.

On the other side, i recommend employers and team managers not to insist on hiring leaders. They should rather hire smart people with leadership potential and support them (and everyone else in the team) to shape their leadership capabilities.

So, the answer to the question why i do not hire leaders is simple: Because i can not.

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