One definition of “scope” is the extent or range of one’s effectiveness. There is the mistaken notion that anyone can grow into any level of scope as a leader. I firmly believe that each individual leader has a built in or God given extent or range of effective leading. Allow me to refine this by thinking about it from two different angles. The first level is scope defined by how many people one can effectively lead. The second level is scope defined by your level of leadership.
I believe leaders have a built in scope for the number of people they can effectively lead. In other words-some are leaders of tens, some are leaders of hundreds and some are leaders of thousands. And while I will grant that all can grow by degrees into leading more people-I believe that each person has a “sweet spot” of leadership effectiveness. Often we don’t fully identify this point until we have been over promoted beyond our effective range.
I believe leaders also have a built in scope for the level they should lead. Some are best at leading locally and up close. Some are better suited to lead at a regional or national level. The higher one goes up in organizational leadership the more one has to be effective at thinking about organizational architecture and organizational culture. They have to be more effective at leading over distance. Not all are wired to do well at this. Some are very adept at leading at this level. Some are best at leading close to the action where they can directly affect change.
How does one best determine their proper scope in leading? I think this requires opportunity and feedback. It does take experience to figure out how many people you can effectively lead and your most effective level of leadership. It also requires feedback from those under you, those around you, and those above you. Seek out that feedback. The greatest stumbling block to discerning your best scope is placing too much stock in your current title or position. We become too vested in what we see as a level of status or prestige. Yet, deep down we may know we are not leading well at our current role and we are not fulfilled.
This does not mean you cannot leverage your leadership role towards more people from any level. You can always extend your leadership influence through one simple principle-empower those around you! Give power away and multiply the leaders. Some of the most influential people I know have never led more than a handful of people at a time. They have never led higher than the local level. Yet, their impact is great because there are hundreds of leaders leading at every level that were spawned through them. Finding your most effective scope of leadership is critical. It is critical to maximizing who you are. It is critical to maximizing the organizational mission. It is critical to your leadership fulfillment. Lead well!