Leadership Refresher

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It’s never a bad time to examine our thoughts on leadership and do a quick assessment of our own leadership beliefs and practices.

Leadership by Pedro Ribeiro Simões,Flickr

Recently, Michael Snyders, Human Capital Strategist with Future Focus, offered his views on management and leadership in a short refresher workshop attended by local business owners and managers.  He started by revisiting the differences between leading and managing which he distilled into the phrase “We manage things and processes. We lead people.” While this sentiment is not new and variations of this statement have been attributed to a number of sources, Snyders took the time to provide a list of competencies, which participants were then asked to classify as aspects of either management or leadership. The ensuing discussion made three things clear:

  1. A business needs both good management and effective leadership to succeed.
  2. While leadership and management are not the same thing, there are definitely areas of overlap.
  3. Whether a particular behavior falls under leadership or management may depend on the purpose of (and the circumstances surrounding), the behavior.

To help decide whether a management or a leadership response is called for in any given situation, Snyders offered the following litmus test.  

We’re contemplating leadership action when we ask ourselves “How can I help?”

When the question in our heads is “What tool or system could we use to address this?"—we need to step in and manage.  

The Third Part of Leading

Especially important in our knowledge-based economy, there is a third hat that leaders must also be comfortable wearing; that of the technical expert. Snyders provided the following definitions for these three dimensions of an effective leader.

Manage: To handle; to conduct; to control; to deal tactfully with; to contrive.

Lead: To show the way by going first; to precede; to guide; to direct by example; to convey; to guide by persuasion or argument. And his own definition of leading: to engage followership.

Be a Technical Expert: Provide information and instruction to others based on thorough knowledge of a particular subject gained through experience, education and proficiency.

While it’s not necessary that a leader or manager know everything about every aspect of the work done within their team, they must have sufficient technical expertise to demonstrate competence, make good decisions and set an informed direction.  Without this third piece, establishing credibility and trust is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Being an Effective Leader

Snyders left us with four recommendations for being more effective in a leadership role.

  1. Strive to go from good to great: Recognize your leadership style and your strengths and build on them. Rather than trying to develop competencies that you may never master due to personal preferences and natural abilities that pull you in a different direction.
  2. Be inspired by others: Make a point of connecting with and learning from leaders you admire. Invite them for coffee and ask then to describe their leadership style and what works for them.
  3. Identify and eliminate red flags: Seek honest feedback and identify aspects of your leadership style that are preventing you from connecting with your team and achieving your objectives. While developing a competence that you’d be better off hiring is not a good use of your time, dealing with real challenges in your approach that prevent you from being effective definitely is.
  4. Surround yourself with talent: When you know what you’re good at—and what you’re not so good at, you can recruit and develop people who complement your skill set. Great leaders surround themselves with great talent.

Whether you see yourself primarily as a leader or as a manager, it’s important to remember that the two are not mutually exclusive. Every organization is made up of people, things and processes. Success requires a combination of showing the way, controlling the journey and sharing your knowledge of the landscape along the way.


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The Latest from Workplace Tribes
Leadership Refresher February 27, 2015
We Are All Connected February 25, 2015
What HR Can Learn from Effective Sales Proposals February 23, 2015
Why Giving is as Important as Shipping February 20, 2015
The Importance of Clear Signals at Work February 18, 2015
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6 Ways to Get the Most out of Training your Team February 13, 2015
Fighting the “Mommy Dead End” February 11, 2015
8 Tips for Surviving Your Daily Commute February 09, 2015
A Bad Day or Job Burnout? February 06, 2015