Are you Leading or Managing?
I recall (with horror) my early management career. I had an outdated view of what it was to be a manager and felt my job was to manage the people. Make sure they were doing the right thing, checking in on them and trying to make them work to the level I expected.
I never sat with them and planned and clarified or set the vision for the department. I never asked what they needed, or how I could support them. I just scrutinised and criticised and held them up against my own unrelenting high standards.
I was managing, not leading. And micromanaging at that.
I set out some 20+ years ago to better understand people leadership as a way to manage my own frustrations.
Through my early learning journey, I started to appreciate individuality and what it meant to lead.
I came to the realisation that what I expected of myself at work was not the same as what I could reasonably expect of others.
Not everyone places the same value or gets their self-actualisation from work. For some it is purely a means to an end… and that is completely okay. As long as they perform the functions of their role to the best of their ability, that’s okay.
When we lead:
- We set the vision and work in a way that inspires and motivates our teams to reach that vision with us.
- We clear obstacles and build capacity in our teams so they can achieve what they need to.
- We support, motivate, mobilise, enable and develop.
- And I wholeheartedly believe, we have fun. Even through hard times.
When we manage:
- We see people as chess pieces.
- We push, pull, tell, demand.
- We disempower, we demoralise, and we disengage them.
Lead people, manage things.
When I’m developing new leaders or technical experts who now have leadership responsibilities I use the phrase: Lead people, manage things.
As people leaders there will be management requirements – there’s a need to manage budgets, plans, rosters, leave.
But people will always need leadership.
Are you leading or managing?
Five questions to explore whether you are leading or managing your team?
- Am I having structured 1:1 meetings with my team members each month?
- Are there support, development and “care” questions as well as operational & KPI questions at these meetings?
- Am I coaching or telling? (Do this, versus What have you tried so far?)
- Have I ensured everyone is clear on their roles, responsibilities, priorities and quality expectations?
- Am I inviting contributions from my team? Asking for – and listening to – their input?