So, you think you are a leader?
My guess is that you are successful, correct? You are a seasoned, experienced business executive in the mid-to-late phase of your career and have survived the tumultuous ups and downs of the industry (so far). Do you pride yourself on your excellent management skills? Do you consider yourself a strong leader? Do you feel there is room to improve?
It’s time to get real and get honest.
Is being a leader the same as being a manager? NO! It is NOT the same! So why do we use the terms so loosely and interchangeably? Believe me there is a HUGE difference! I have seen very effective managers with profitable businesses, who are terrible leaders. The majority of their employees are exhausted and highly stressed with fear in their eyes, but revenues are up!
I have also worked with amazing, inspirational and creative leaders who oversee loyal and hardworking team, yet lack critical management skills. Employees in their organizations are passionate and full of energy but their customers receive late or inaccurate invoices and no one seems to understand the terms of the office lease.
Every organization needs strong management AND leadership. BOTH are critical in order to sustain a long term competitive business. The key to organizational balance is being honest in determining where your strengths and weaknesses lie. If, as a business owner, you believe yourself to be a strong leader but lack operational or managerial focus, hire an experienced CFO. If you are a highly effective and productive manager but struggle with vision and inspiration, find a partner or senior executive with charisma, passion and creativity; someone who will focus on what business you will be in 5 years from now while you focus on achieving this quarter’s strategic operating objectives.
Management vs Leadership
The majority of my clients consider themselves strong leaders, but what is a “leader,” really? A leader inspires and motivates his/her team to achieve a common goal (key emphasis on the common), meaning they can relate to it and they believe in it. It is unlikely they are motivated by your near-term goal of early retirement in a tropical paradise.
Leaders have a clear vision of the future, then guide and nurture their team to create it. Teams and individuals follow leaders because they WANT or CHOOSE to, not because of reporting structures, obligation, authority or positions of power. Leaders influence their team members by earning their respect and admiration, which results in team members working harder because they believe in, trust and “buy in” to the leaders compelling vision and passion.
Managers on the other hand control, plan, organize and implement. They often rely on their position of power and authority to drive strict adherence to what they believe is the “right way” to do things. Reluctantly, their teams comply and follow, but without a sense of loyalty or passion. Managers focus on the short term; achieving goals, increasing effectiveness and driving efficiency and productivity at the expense of creativity.
The worst type of manager, when his/her followers are too exhausted or resistant to work harder, resorts to using fear as their primary method of motivation, without even realizing the high price they pay. Loyalty is often measured in terms of how employees spend their discretionary time. Ask yourself (honestly) if your team worked late into the evenings because they WANTED to or because they feel they HAD to? I guarantee the quality of work will vary significantly based on whether they view you as a leader or a manager.
So which are YOU?
The following is a quick assessment to help you determine if you lean towards being a leader or manager. Select EITHER the sentence on the left OR the right, whichever better describes how you honestly see yourself today, not how you would like to be (now or in the future)!
I always make sure my team adheres to policies and procedures. Systems are important to me and our business.
|I always focus on my people and team. I value them and want to ensure they are motivated.|
|I focus on information. I need facts and data to run my business.||I rely on my instincts and gut. I respond to how I feel about what is going on.|
|I stay on top of industry trends. I read, research, problem solve and analyze the market to stay on top of competitors and my business.||I respond quickly to things that I see happening, I am afraid of getting left behind, so I jump into action immediately.|
|I expect my staff to listen to me. I set the direction and communicate it clearly to them. They should follow my instruction because I am more experienced and senior than they. I always know what to do.||I listen to my team and openly hear their arguments. I use persuasion and charisma to ensure they buy into my vision and direction of where I want to take the company.|
|I solve problems logically.||I trust my heart to solve problems.|
|I like being in control.||I work towards securing commitment.|
|Most of my time is spent solving the business problems.||Most of my time is spent looking for possibilities and opportunities for my business.|
|I am very busy, have too much on my plate, and often find myself reacting to crisis.||I focus, have clarity of direction and have time to plan our strategy.|
|I make sure my team is achieving our company goals.||I strive to make sure my team is working towards achieving our vision.|
|I drive people to get things done. I am results driven.||I make sure my team is inspired and motivated.|
|I spend a lot of time at my desk and send a great deal of emails to my team members.||I spend most of my time walking around and talking to my team.|
|I want us to standardize processes and have consistent and reliable performance.||I want us to be creative and innovate.|
|Total this column:||Total this column:|
Based on Warren Bennis Complementary Strengths work.
If your total on the left is higher than on the right, you are predominantly a MANAGER and would benefit from developing more leadership skills and capabilities. If your total on the right is higher than the left you are predominantly a LEADER, and may benefit from focusing on developing your operational capabilities, or from hiring a resource to cover your blind spots. If your two scores are very close, you are likely a well-balanced leader with strong management skills.
Stephen Covey claimed, “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” Peter Drucker eloquently states “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
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