Monday, January 16, 2012

There Is A Difference

Over the decades that I have done this work, I have met many people with many different titles. Some have been goofy and some have been most interesting. As their executive coach and/or consultant, I have had to remind people that a title does not make the person a good leader. A title simply conveys where you sit on the organizational chart and it can imply that you have some positional power.

In the world of leadership, you will learn that you are only a leader if someone is willing to follow you. Once they are willing to place their trust in you, then something very magical happens. And, you have some important choices to make.

The first choice is to consciously choose when to manage and when to lead. For some who are experienced, this is a very unconscious act but for many right now given this economy, they need to wake up and be more conscious of when they are managing and when they are leading.

Now some will argue that there is no difference between management and leadership. It is all an academic exercise. But more experienced people will remind you that there is a huge difference between these two actions. Marcus Buckingham in his excellent book, The One Thing You Need to Know ... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success, Free Press, 2005, gives the best description about the difference between management and leadership. As he writes:

“To excel as a manager you must never forget that each of your direct reports is unique and that your chief responsibility is not to eradicate this uniqueness, but rather to arrange roles, responsibilities, and expectations so that you can capitalize upon it. The more you perfect this skill, the more effectively you will turn talents into performance.

To excel as a leader requires the opposite skill. You must become adept at calling upon those needs we all share. Our common needs include the need for security, for community, for authority, and for respect, but for you, the leader, the most powerful universal need is our need for clarity. To transform our fear of the unknown into confidence in the future, you must discipline yourself to describe our joint future vividly and precisely. As your skill at this grows, so will our confidence in you.”

Over the last two years, I have spent more and more time during executive coaching sessions sharing these two paragraphs with young leaders and asking them to explore with me what each one means. For those of you who are coaching young leaders, this is an excellent exercise and it always results in a wonderful and in-depth strategic dialogue about key concepts. For those of you who are not being well coached, sit down with someone who you trust and hold this conversation. If you can not find someone who you feel will be helpful, consider investing in some executive coaching outside the organization. I am more than willing to be of assistance.

This week realize there is a difference between management and leadership. Remember that awareness is the first step to improved performance.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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