Challenge the flight plan 🛩  

An unconscious submission is a termite for your professional growth.

Asif Durrani

Expecting leadership traits from an authority is an implicit bias. A mistake most corporate employees make every day when they become submissive toward an authority. An authority (or a manager) is a statuary title; it gives empowerment to a person to control the herd of humans. But an authority is not a leader. Hence, expecting leadership from an authority is an unconscious bias.

The seed of implicit bias was sowed by the management consultants who nicely glorified corporate titles with leadership synonyms. If you look around, you might find quite many organizations who have fancy leadership title in their corporate suite. But the question we should ask ourselves — are those people really qualified to carry such titles, or are we fostering leadership quackery in the corporate world. Probably later stands correct.

Although Management is a science but leadership is an art; you can train people to be good managers, but you cannot teach a person to become a leader. There is no certification or a Mensa score for a leadership trait. We all carry leadership genome and reflect them based on particular times and occasions. We are the leader at home, in the soccer club, or in business school, but when we step onto a corporate floor for a nine-to-five job, we surrender that leadership trait and become submissive toward an authority. We execute decisions that we don’t like; we sell solutions that are not ready; we promote products which we don’t consume. Why does that happen?

Before answering, let’s first examine the trait of an authoritative manager. An authority or a manager is a person who has climbed up the corporate ladder based on the vintage or simply because of loyalty. A person who uses authority to execute the decisions and doesn’t involve people in the decision-making. A person who is not open to listening, unwilling to empower the team, and scared of delegation. A person who demands submission for the taken decisions.

An unconscious submission is a termite for your professional growth. It will rust your cognitive ability, eventually limiting your potential for career growth. If you are not allowed to speak and unable to share your ideas freely, you are merely an obedient robot or an AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithm. Unfortunately, most corporate employees have become submissive toward an authority or have become slaves to procedures.

An authority expects a seamless execution of taken decisions, and you are not allowed to give your input or share your idea. An authority doesn’t ask for ideas; it demands the execution of the order. There are many occasions where you might have witnessed that smart people have traded off their cognitive abilities against executive orders.

Think about a fighter pilot; who is an intelligent intellectual, a qualified person to fly the machine, but when it comes to a war game, the pilot simply execute the orders. Once the squadron leader assigns a flight plan, the pilot will not ask for a review of the order. If the given instructions were to drop two bombs left and three bombs right, the person would do it. Not much different from a soldier fighting in a trench and aiming to kill an unknown person because of the order to fight.

Although a seamless execution of the order is very important in the corporate world but you are not in a war zone, and you don’t have a flight plan to drop two bombs left and three bombs right. On a corporate floor, every individual has a fundamental right to think and use their neurons and challenge what is wrong. This analogy might help us to better answer the above question, and we stop executing decisions that we don’t like.

You don’t have to act like a fighter pilot to execute the order. You have to become a navigator of your leadership journey. Your journey is in evolution; the first step is to move away from imposter syndrome, challenge yourself every day and raise your bar. One step every day will bring you closer to becoming a true leader without an authority.

Remember the golden rule of submission. A submission starts with an authority. An authority brings obedience, and obedience creates a henchman; the rule of corporate governance is simple ‘there is no place for a henchman on a corporate floor’. Think, ask and question yourself before implementing an executive order; if you cant question then you are not much different than an AI algorithm or a bot which is dispensible at any moment despite being obedient and submissive.

Don’t be like a fighter pilot. Challenge the flight plan.


Asif Durrani

05 Jun 2022