02 Jul The Great Leader Manager
By Blake Stevens
A quick Google search reveals that Amazon offers close to 60,000 books with the word “leadership” in the title. Clearly, there are enough resources to give us some perspective on leadership.
But when everyone has an opinion, asking how to lead can be like asking someone how to cook jambalaya. Everyone has a different approach when it comes to what they think leadership really means or what a good leader should look and act like.
The way I see it, everyone can be a leader. It simply depends on where they are leading – down the street into traffic or down the road to success.
New generations of leaders will continue to rise up, which puts pressure on you to up your game. While the leader’s job is setting clear direction and developing the team members you are leading to achieve results, the manager’s job is dealing with the complexity of the day-to-day. And in today’s workplace, the function of the leader and the manager have to be performed by the same person.
Analyzing leadership is a good thing, but each of us needs to be inspired by what we see and avoid the temptation to simply imitate what we see, hear or read. The fact is we were all raised, educated – and currently live – differently. That is why I would like to unpack the manager role for a little bit. The five aspects of emotional intelligence are a great place to start, and many books explain them in detail. In my experience leading managers, I have had the opportunity to see great success as well as ultimate failure.
This is a deeper love than a “Will you be my Valentine?” type of love. Loving who you are and knowing your strengths and weaknesses will be key to your success. I want you to think about what made you who you are. Needing to prove yourself can be detrimental to you in your role as leader and manager. Your ability to retain the confidence needed to be yourself and a manager through all the issues that come your way is one of the reasons you were placed in the leadership role in the first place.
My mom always said, “Kill them with kindness,” which is hard to do, especially when emotions are involved. Your reputation as a leader and a manager will be based not only on achieving results, but also on how you make people feel. Being nice will get you a long way and help you overcome some of your shortcomings as a manager.
There is power in being able to give someone time to figure things out, and this involves listening to the roadblocks the employee is having, supporting them through it and – yes – being patient. Empowerment will not come without patience. If you give someone a task and they do not complete it promptly or how you would have done it, most leaders these days will take over the task and do it themselves. Empowerment is all about allowing power to be distributed through someone else. If you take that power away from them and do it yourself, there is no distribution of power. Instead, there is simply a feeling of failure. Being patient, listening to your team member’s struggles, supporting the employee through the task and refusing to take over the project will go a long way.
Feedback is great when given respectfully. Performance has to be addressed with both corrections and praisings. Using a gentle approach while confronting the issues at hand will help build your reputation as someone who can empathize and get results through people and not run over them. By using a little gentleness, you will be on your way to earning the right to be heard by your employees. They will be more willing to listen to your perspective and coaching when you show gentleness in your approach.
We have covered loving who you are, being kind, patient and gentle with those you work with, but being humble in all you do wraps it up with a nice bow. Going through life thinking you know it all, and you are the only one who is right or never makes a mistake, will only lead to your demise as a leader and manager. Working with your team, getting feedback on your performance and approach is a great way to start. It could be uncomfortable at first, but if your team knows you care and that you will listen, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful leader and manager.