Too many people assume that managers and leaders are one and the same thing. Experience – and informed insight – suggest they are not. In this article, we’ll look at why that’s the case and some of the implications for an organisation.
Let’s start with a surprising statistic from the USA, and there’s no reason to suspect that the results would be any different in Australia. During their working career half of the 7,272 people who responded to a Gallup survey said that they had left a job because of the shortcomings of their line manager. Let’s unpack the ramifications of this – when someone leaves because they are unhappy with their manager, an asset in which the company has invested (through formal and informal training) walks out the door, often taking corporate knowledge and experience with them. Replacing them is often costly and disruptive.
But there’s more. Having a bad manager is often a one-two punch: Employees who feel miserable at work can act as a catalyst, affecting the morale of the people around them, compromising efficient teamwork and acting as a brake on productivity.
It’s not only the workplace that suffers from an unhappy employee, taking their stress home can have a ripple effect on their relationships and general wellbeing.
So, now’s the time to ask the question – why is this happening at all? Clearly, in most cases, the manager is not doing his or her job. In my experience, such people may be capable managers, but they are obviously not leaders.
As Forbes observed, once there were many situations in which the two roles, managers and leaders, could be separated. Think a factory foreperson whose job is primarily organising people to do certain tasks in a defined way at a specific time. Today, however, most managerial roles have changed. They demand more flexibility, improvisation and motivation. In other words, they are becoming more leadership oriented.
One study, published in The Harvard Business Review, supports this proposition. It found that “the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50 percent or more’’ over the last two decades and that, “at many companies, more than three-quarters of an employee’s day is spent communicating with colleagues.”
A traditional manager is someone who has direct reports. A leader may have direct reports, but more importantly they are a person to whom others, look to for guidance, instruction and even motivation.
Leaders tend to be trusted and respected, qualities that they earn through their actions and demeanour.
Forbes identified twelve qualities of leadership. I believe that a good leader will have a least half of these, if not more, while an excellent leader will have them all. See how many of these you, or those you regard as leaders in your organisation, share:
1. Lead by example
3. Admit your mistakes and limitations
4. Keep promises and stick to your commitments
5. Trust your team
6. Ask for feedback
7. Don’t play favourites
8. Treat everyone fairly
9. Don’t gossip
11. Put the success of the team before your own
12. Act with consistency
When expressed in a list like this, the usual reaction is to say “Of course, this is all common sense!”, but it’s surprising how uncommon it is to find people who consistently demonstrate adherence to all twelve. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that effective leadership can be learnt. Of course, there are people who seem to do it all effortlessly, and they often have the added bonus of charisma, but that doesn’t preclude others attaining the same attributes.
If you’d like to discuss how a Detangling Session can drive positive change for you and your leadership, please contact Melinda Fell email: firstname.lastname@example.org