How do you know when you are falling away from your talents as a leader, and are stepping onto someone else’s toes by starting to manage –or worse yet – micro-manage your business and your teams?
There are dances of leadership and management. There are some skills that are unique to leaders and some skills that are unique to managers; and then there are those people (and honestly, that’s most of us) who have skills that are both leadership and management to varying degrees.
As a leader you become much more effective when you know which skills you have to offer and which skills you want to rely on team members to carry out.
The most succinct quote I’ve seen describing the differences between these two essential positions belongs to Stephen Covey:
“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
In a recent leadership workshop, a group of 10 dynamic leaders and thinkers came together and defined leadership for themselves.
Their descriptions did not include the following qualities:
- Poor listener
- Out of touch
When I attend conferences and start a discussion about what leaders are and what leaders are not, I always find it interesting to hear what people define as leadership.
One of my favorite “ah-ha” moments came at a workshop where a woman raised her hand and challenged me when I told the group they were all natural leaders. She shared that she didn’t consider herself a leader and did not agree that we all potentially have leadership skills. I found it really interesting; because she was the one woman in the room I observed demonstrating the most leadership out of all the groups.
As we played with ideas and definitions of leadership, she began to see that having power is not necessarily leadership. What a leader chooses to do with the power they have really defines who they are as a leader. In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.”
It was easy to see how this woman was sharing ideas, asking questions, and encouraging everyone in the group to share and expand their thinking on the project they were working on. But, she had said that she never thought of what she did as leadership, because the way she defined leadership was based on things she saw leaders doing that she didn’t like. Until that moment, she had never considered herself, or even wanted to be, a leader. The smile on her face with this “ah-ha” has stayed with me for months. Here’s an example of a natural leader, who didn’t recognize her own leadership qualities.
I’ve got a tip for you. Before you label yourself as a manager or leader or some combination of both, think about leaders you admire, who are in a place of influence.
- What qualities do they embody?
- What do you share that is in common with these leaders?
If your mental wheels are turning and you would like some help or more clarity on this topic, give me a call!
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