What do successful leaders know?…. They know the difference between management and leadership is more than semantics. In today’s business world, the words management and leadership are often interchangeable, but they are not synonymous. The concepts of leadership and management are not mutually exclusive, and successful leaders are excellent managers; however, not all successful managers are leaders. The key to becoming a successful leader lies in understanding the distinctions and embracing the challenge to go beyond good management to leadership.
Management refers to one’s ability to oversee the process, procedures and operations within an organization or team that result in the delivery of products and services to the marketplace. Managers possess a high degree of technical expertise, institutional knowledge and cognitive capabilities that enable them to direct the day-to-day operations and functions within the organization. They are focused on the short-term perspective… what is needed to get others to complete the tasks at hand rather than the vision and trajectory of the organization toward future success. Their source of power within the organization comes from the formal power awarded to them by title, how much effect they have on others’ opportunities for growth and control over resources. People follow managers, even good ones, because that is what is expected of them and delivering what is expected ensures the individual’s success. Management involves short-term planning and goals. The primary focus and effort of management is directed towards organizing and supervising the process, people, systems and resources that result in the achievement of specific tasks on a daily basis that is repeated time after time. Good management is about ensuring that things go smoothly and right.
On the other hand, leadership is distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence anchored by technical skill, business acumen and expertise. Leadership is about demonstrating in word and action a set of emotional and social skills that impact and drive outstanding performance within the organization. Leaders have a high degree of self-awareness. They are keenly aware and recognize how their mood, emotions and drives affect others. Leaders have the ability to understand the emotional makeup of those around them and treat them accordingly. They leverage this understanding to build, develop and retain talented people. Leaders develop power and influence as the result of building rapport and establishing relationships, finding common ground and persuading others to follow them because their strategies and ideas have merit. Leadership is about continually communicating the why, where, when and what while refraining from dictating the how. Leaders are clear in their intent and create a framework that supports creativity, collaboration, agility and diversity of opinion. They recognize the potential within others and foster independent decision-making and action that supports the leader’s intent and mission.
Leaders use influence to motivate and inspire others to follow and support them as they move the organization beyond its comfort zone. Challenging beliefs, ideas and strategies, along with accepted ways of doing things, are all hallmarks of leadership. Leaders hold a long-range view. Good leadership is about doing the right things.
How does someone move beyond management to leadership? The answer is… you have to broaden your mindset and begin thinking and behaving as a leader each and every day.
As you develop the mindset of a leader, you increase your leadership capabilities and create the character and competence needed to lead. Here are some ideas to consider integrating into your skill set to do more than manage and lead:
- Focus on connecting authentically with the thoughts and feelings of those you interact with, lead or serve so that you can motivate and inspire them to achieve great things
- Commit to being clear and to acting with integrity as a means of developing your credibility
- Walk your talk… be congruent inside and out have the courage to act in alignment with your deepest values and beliefs
- Be present and completely in the moment, and be agile enough to handle unexpected situations
- Build relationships by reaching out to others with empathy, and always establish, grow, and offer trust
- Engage in behavior that is ethical…doing what you should do rather than what you can do in difficult or challenging situations
- Be concerned with acting on good ideas rather than having good ideas, and be more concerned about what is right rather than being right.
- Build a solid team. It is about what you and those you lead want to accomplish and how you can all benefit from the group effort
- Acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers. Embrace new positions and truths rather than become entrenched in defending outmoded positions or strategies
- Communicate tirelessly, have the courage to confront the unknown
- Have optimism in the face of failure
- Advocate for change and be the voice of clarity in ambiguous situations
With persistence and practice, the capabilities of a leader can be learned. Any organization’s success requires those in key roles to possess leadership and management skills. These skills go hand in hand and are connected and complementary.
Are you committed to becoming a leader who can inspire confidence in others? Please comment on how you plan to practice and embody the leadership capabilities discussed above.