Leadership Trevolution Blog Entry

Does it matter to people whether you manage or lead?

Published on: Nov 07, 2011 | Tags: General, Self Leadership, Team Leadership, Management

It depends on your definition of management and leadership. Definitions matter. Definitions assign  meaning to words and meanings define actions. We have all been guilty of changing the word that we use to describe an action, but that action does not change. We talk about empowerment, but people still experience delegation. We talk about team but independence and silos remain. We write mission statements and develop visions but continue to rely on extrinsic motivation to engage people. There are many of us who use words related to leadership and management without careful consideration of how our actions define them.

 For more than ten years I have asked participants in sessions I have led why they follow leaders and the list had been consistent. While important, it is not technical skills or expertise, knowledge of the business, or position that influences people to follow. A representative list of the attributes I have heard over and over includes:

  • Trustworthy
  • Authentic
  • Open
  • Supportive
  • Fair
  • Listening
  • Consistency

 This is a reminder that what matters to people first are the personal qualities that you possess which position others to want to follow you. While you may understand your supervisory responsibility to deliver results as your primary focus it cannot be your only focus. You have to ask yourself, “What matters to the people I lead?” The primary definition that matters to people is how you, as a leader, define yourself. And while you may define yourself based on your intentions, those you lead read the definition of your action or inaction and its impact on their life at work.

 Adjusting how you define yourself can have a revolutionary effect on those you lead. Once your self-definition is clear you can return to the difference between management and leadership. Leadership is the ability to bring people together. At the workgroup level this is building those you are responsible to lead into a team.  Management by definition is not focused on the team but the individual. What do those you lead need most, someone who can lead them to come together to achieve goals and success, or someone who allows individuals to operate without consideration of how each one impacts the other? The attributes discussed above support the ability to bring people together to achieve success which is by definition,  great leadership.

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