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Managers are receiving a bad rap in my opinion.
I enjoy learning and sharing about leadership, so I keep up fairly well with the current literature. Additionally, I have been an adjunct professor at the graduate level for about 14 years often teaching on management / leadership using various texts.
I have seen a bit of a disturbing trend in the literature and online that sends, or implies, the message “Leaders = Good, Managers = Bad.” People are encouraged “don’t be a manager, be a leader!” as if managers are not leaders. That is the wrong message!
The contrast some writers make is actually about being a good boss versus a bad boss. For others, the distinction is that leaders operate at a strategic level while managers work at an operational or tactical level. The implication here is that the strategic is more important than the tactical. However, we all know that unless it is well executed at the tactical level, a strategy is meaningless. Leadership skills are required to transform strategies into action.
Managers are leaders and supervisors are leaders! Without managers and supervisors, we would never get anything done! They are leading the teams that are actually doing the work.
What we really have are:
Strategic Leaders or Managers (Executives)—setting organizational level vision, direction, and strategy.
Operational Leaders or Managers (Directors and Senior Managers)—coordinating the work of multiple tactical level teams in order to execute the strategy set by the strategic leaders.
Tactical Leaders or Managers (Managers and Supervisors)—leading the teams of people actually doing the work of the organization.
So, please do not use the term “manager” as if it is somehow less than the term “leader.” Being a manager is an honorable role and it is a leadership role.
When life brings the inevitable challenges that every leader will face, we should remember this quote. Roosevelt says: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Even a good leader gets scared, doubts his own capability, or wonders whether she has what it takes to lead others.
Click here to read the entire post – it will be worth your time.
What are the fears holding you back and how are you dealing with those fears?
Managers are receiving a bad rap in my opinion. I enjoy learning and sharing about leadership, so I keep up fairly well with the current literature. Additionally, I have been an adjunct professor at the graduate level for about 14 years often teaching on leadership using various texts.
I have seen a bit of a disturbing trend in the literature in that it sends, or implies, the message of “Leaders = Good, Managers = Bad“. People are encouraged “don’t be a manager, be a leader!” as if managers are not leaders. That is the wrong message!
The contrast is actually about being a good boss (leader) versus a bad boss (leader).
Managers are leaders, supervisors are leaders! Without managers and supervisors we would never get anything done! They are the team leaders of the people actually getting the work done.
What we really have are:
Strategic Leaders (Executives) – setting vision, direction, and strategy
Operational Leaders (Directors & Senior Managers)- coordinating the work of multiple tactical level teams in order to execute the strategy set by the strategic leaders.
Tactical Leaders (Managers & Supervisors) – tactical level leaders that are leading the teams of people actually doing the work of the organization.
So, please do not diminish the critical role of managers by contrasting them negatively to the term leader. Managers are leaders!
What does it mean to lead? What does it look like to you? So, so much is written about the subject, including this blog, that it gets overwhelming. Let me point you to some ancient, and very current, wisdom on what it means to lead.
“. . . shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
In the flood of words about what it means to lead, first seek out God’s Word for the truth of what it means to shepherd His people.
Crossway Bibles (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible (Kindle Locations 223738-223740). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to work with several senior leadership teams of various types of organizations. All of them were made up of good, intelligent, and professional people.
Yet, some of them were dealing with a common issue found in many senior leadership teams. This issue is is highlighted in the book Senior Leadership Teams, What It Takes To Make Them Great. The issue is that many teams are formed in a de facto sort of fashion whereby the heads of certain functions automatically make up the team. With that foundation, the members of the team act more like members of a legislature or Congress in that they are there to represent the interests of their area or function.
A healthy senior leadership team is comprised of members who realize that they are responsible for the overall success of the organization and not just their function. They have learned to look through the lens of the organization and not the more narrow lens of their line or functional role.
So what lens is your leadership team using? Are they “representatives” of their function or are they there to lead and be responsible for the entire organization?
Hope you have a great and blessed weekend!
Leadership done well comes with a high price tag. Done rightly, leadership is a lifestyle that puts great value on those being led.
As a leader that values those you lead, you come to understand what it means to be a good steward of other lives.
It costs you to get your people out of trouble when they invariably do so, it costs you when you have to discipline them, it costs you when you have to stand in the gap and protect them, and it costs you to take the time to invest into their lives so that they grow and flourish.It costs you when you have to do things that you don’t really feel like doing at the time. It is hard work.
When you see a poorly functioning team of people, you will often find the the cause is a leader, or leaders, not willing to pay the cost of leadership.Remember this – someone pays for the cost of leadership, either the leader does or the people he leads pay the cost. When the people being led have to pay the cost, it is usually not good.
One key point – how do you see those that you lead? Are they parts of a system that need to be managed, are they irritants, obstacles, maybe even tools? Or do you see them as people – unique creations made in the image of the living God? Do you understand the importance, and the biblical command, that you love them? I know, some are not too lovable, but nonetheless, we are called to love others.
If you are a leader or aspire to be a leader, then count the cost for it will be high. It is worth it, but leadership is not for the faint of heart, the self-centered, or the lazy.
Be willing to gladly pay the cost and make a real difference in the lives of others!
Have a great weekend!
PS. Check out this excellent book – The Way of the Shepherd, Seven Secrets to Managing Productive People.
Good blog post by Marshall Goldsmith, “Their Commitment Might Mean More Than Our Insight”.
He talks about how much more powerful employee commitment to an idea is than is the “brilliant” insight of the leader.
Following is a paragraph from his post:
The next time you are working with a direct report or team member and you start to “improve” upon their ideas with your insights, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
When communicating with direct reports, don’t just ask for understanding – search for commitment. Listen to the tone of their voices and look at their faces. When describing a project, ask the employee to rank their level of enthusiasm for executing the plan. Ask a simple question, “How can we work together on this project in a way that will lead to your highest level of commitment?” Listen to their ideas. Be willing to trade off some of your insights on content to gain their commitment and enthusiasm.
Read the full post – especially if you are a senior leader in your organization and you truly desire to make your organization more effective.