Leadership and Management
Years of managing and coaching other managers, most managers believe they are leaders. I found the more successful managers had a greater degree of leadership.
Of course management entails leadership. The more successful the manager, the greater degree of leadership skills were in evidence. Any manager who really aspires to becoming a strong leader must understand one inescapable qualification.
You are not a leader because you say so, you are a leader because you have followers who say so.
Any number of times, when I have asked employees “…is your boss more of a manager or a leader or both?” a high percentage of the time the answer is something like…”well, more of a manager.” The implication is often times that the employees do what they are told to do by the boss and qualities of leadership are not involved.
Now, there is nothing wrong with being a successful manager. In the early stages, or in certain types of management, there is little need for real leadership skills. But for most business and professional organizations, leadership is part of successful management. In addition, those managers who aspire to greater positions of responsibility and authority, must develop real leadership skills.
Leadership Abilities for Management
Managing with “leadership abilities” is an important, yet complex topic. How do you get followers? What factors influence the trust and respect that true leadership entails?
At it’s most fundamental level, there are specific skills, traits and characteristics that one must possess or develop to exert true leadership influence on the team you lead.
First is the correlation between the manager’s skill and knowledge of the job responsibilities carried out by their business unit, and the belief on the part of the employees in the manager’s unit that the manager has a good understanding of what they do. It is seldom that a manager may have come up through the ranks of a particular business unit and has actually done the specific work. It happens but it is rare. So the key here is to develop a schedule to spend quality time sitting with employees and learning how they do their job.
Many specific jobs have challenging components that can levy stress and hardship on the employee. Employees feel much more inclined to see their manager as also a leader if they believe the manager has a real idea of what their challenges are and the difficulties they face at times. If the manager has done the employees specific job, or participated with them in learning about what their job entails, they will believe that when the pressure is on, their manager leads because they understand what the employee faces.
Leadership and Effective Listening
It is “leadership mission critical” for managers to really listen to their employees suggestions and concerns. I was so fortunate to have had a manager/leader when I was a management trainee. Looking back many times on his leadership, it was amazing how he treated his people. Tough, demanding, even irascible at times but when you were talking (or in my case more often “listening”), you absolutely felt like you were the only person that counted. This manager took the time to know you, really know you, and no matter what demands were made, he always treated you with respect. You felt it…and you would follow him into the fire because of it.
The most common problem I have seen with managers trying to be leaders, comes down to the amount of emphasis on “position power.” Managers who rely on commanding their employees from the “authority granted to them by their title” will never be awarded the follow-ship required for leadership. Believe me, every employee knows their manager is the boss, that they have the authority to direct their work and productivity. What they want to know, and will figure out soon enough, is whether the manage is also a leader. Someone who will inspire them, have their back, go to the wall for them and demand the best out of them.
The best place to start is to start listening. Listen, listen so more and listen again. Welcome your employees input, suggestions, ideas and concerns. Listening breeds trust and trust builds relationships. Managers need to be themselves, not relying on their anointed authority. Be genuine (or “real” as they say). Listen, seek understanding and then provide experienced and honest feedback. I have heard this referred to as being an “authentic” manager. Authenticity begets mutual respect.
So, why is it that every manager needs to enrich their management with leadership? In the journey that every aspiring manager makes to build a high-performance team and rise to higher positions of responsibility, they will face many tough times. These tough times can be missed opportunity, unexpected problems and issues that threaten the manager and their team. When these road blocks and obstacles occur, you will need to depend on the trust and dedicated followers created to manage through the issues and lead your people to success. When the challenges occur, and they will occur, you can’t create trust if it’s not already in place.