“Leadership” and “management” are often used interchangeably, but there are key differences among the two. The manager has a specific role to work on a one to one basis with those whose day to day work they direct. From a strengths-based perspective, they help to identify talent within their direct reports, set clear expectations, motivate, engage and develop these individuals for performance in their current role and growth into their next step. It’s a key role that, the fabric of an organization that employee see the company.
Leadership is distinctly different. Let’s take a look at how leadership looks in action. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list; I look forward to your contributions to the conversation:
- Spirit of service – Leaders help spread a spirit of service. They are passionate about the cause, mission or goal that they lead others towards. Leadership isn’t necessarily granted by someone’s title, rather by their commitment to serve others.
- A one to many relationship – Leaders have an impact and create influence on the entire organization. You might have been inspired by a leader along your professional journey to whom you never reported. Outside of the workplace, you have surely been touched by leaders in politics, human rights movements, etc. that you’ve never met personally or lived in a different era, yet still managed to impact your life.
- Leadership creates Vision, Alignment and Execution. All three components are critical for any leader. One of the biggest differences between and experienced and inexperienced leader is the ability to see vision as a critical part of their role as a leader. They must be willing to explore “What’s next?” for their organization, help define it, craft it and get others on board, ensure the pieces are in place to turn that vision into reality! Management can be part of the required structure that leadership must put in place for execution of the established vision. Straw, Julie, et al. The Work of Leaders. San Francisco: Wiley, 2013. Print. Each leader has a unique set of talents, priorities and styles to accomplish this, it’s important to be aware of how this uniqueness impacts their ability to deliver on Vision, Alignment and Execution.
- Leadership sets the tone for culture – Culture is made up of many components and we won’t dive into definitions here, simply put, culture is what an organization does, how it behaves, what is upheld by its leaders. Culture creation is intentional and it starts at the top. An organization can have a set of Core Values that talk about being inclusive, fun, puts the customer first, etc. but if this isn’t upheld by leadership, it becomes more damaging to have a stated culture that isn’t upheld. Recently I was delivering a training session with a team, leadership had brought me in to help send a message of a respectful workplace among other things. We held various sessions throughout the day and in one of the sessions, a middle manager was brave enough to ask, “What can we do when the person being disrespectful is a top leader?” It took a lot of courage and she was visibly nervous to ask. I see this often, when training is mistakenly thought of as a silver bullet. The culture that leaders create and uphold makes the biggest difference. Things will and do happen in organizations that go against the stated desired culture, this is where leaders and managers alike have a responsibility to address and make visible that they are willing to stand for what the desired culture looks.
I look forward to connecting with you on these topics and more. Are you a showing up as a leader? More importantly, are you showing up as the leader you’d be inspired to follow?