By Phil Birch
Are you a leader or a manager?
Many managers like to think they are leaders, but good management does not necessarily go hand in hand with good leadership.
So what is the difference and which are you?
With over 20 years corporate experience I believe that the one key difference, that influences all the other differences, is that leaders require followers whereas managers require policies.
Managers tend to have a fall back position, a safety net based on organisational structure, employment contracts, delegated authority and responsibility guidelines, company policy and procedure etc. Their followers are their staff and employees who “have” to follow their lead. Leaders on the other hand need to attract, convert and develop followers without this safety net in place.
Good managers often have many of the qualities of good leaders but a great leader has three qualities that sets them apart; inspiration, communication and motivation.
Its one thing to know that you need these qualities and quite another to have them and demonstrate them on a daily basis. To move from manager to leader, you first need to understand what they really mean, and then you need to consistently display them.
1) Inspiration needs to come with integrity and innovation.
Integrity sets the standard of personal performance, honesty, and morality. It shows commitment to the “cause” and it avoids politics and posturing
Demonstrate your integrity by being yourself. Nobody likes to deal with inconsistent behaviour. Be sure to live your principles and always “walk your talk”.
Be wary of photos on Facebook and social media if you’re worried about your clients seeing “another” side to you – but if you’re always being your natural self, then the chances are you have no need to worry. Remember, having many facets does NOT mean having many faces.
Incorporate your principles into the work that you do. Do not have one set for work and one set for you! If you have a particular passion for social responsibility consider, for example, including social activities and volunteering as part of employment contracts.
Inspire your followers. Set an example. Leaders need to inspire, managers only require performance.
Innovation is an important part of inspiration. Make sure it is open-minded and creative. Innovation is a willingness to learn and grow personally and professionally and it must include a commitment to continuous improvement.
2) Communication is a two-way process. One essential aspect of leadership communication is that it should clearly describe the vision by being unambiguous and concise.
A leader keeps the “followers” informed and passes on information. He/she does not hoard knowledge in order to protect “power” and position.
Be open. Not all information can be disseminated to all people but personally ensure that your followers are up to date with latest developments. If you have integrity and authenticity you will engender trust.
Leaders recognise ideas and performance in others, they actually listen – not just hear. You seldom learn anything when you’re talking! So stop talking and start listening.
Leaders are approachable enabling followers to communicate with the leader – not just the other way around. Encourage feedback and criticism. Do not hide behind policy or procedure, allow your followers access and provide an environment of free exchange of ideas.
Communication is also part of effective delegation – this means delegation with clearly communicated responsibility and accountability.
The best communicators utilise multi-media methods, in other words they refer and defer to the recipient’s requirements rather then their own. For example, some people prefer email, others prefer a phone call; understand this and choose the most appropriate medium.
By bringing all this together it is almost inevitable that as a great leader you’ll naturally surround yourself with the best people.
3) Motivation. An aspiring leader can be inspirational and a great communicator, but you don’t motivate your followers then there is no real leadership. You’re impotent.
To motivate others it’s important to understand the needs and aspirations of your followers – don’t assume they are the same as yours.
As with communication, apply various and variable techniques, in order to motivate people. For example, motivation is seldom just about money; so offer a variety of options and let people make their own choices as much as possible.
Make sure you recognise AND reward. All staff can be rewarded for their efforts, and in particular for over-achievement. Set appropriate objectives, create flexible and, if necessary, innovative measurements that are relevant to the individual, and that allow them the chance to achieve.
Develop your followers. Do not be the keeper of all knowledge. If you cannot surround yourself with the best from day one, develop your own followers to reach their potential. Always invest in your followers and allow them to develop as individuals.
Overall, develop your intuition and trust it.
The best decisions are made by a combination of information and intuition. Inspired decisions do not come from logic alone – anyone can do that. Leaders need to inspire.
I think Peter Drucker had it right when he said ‘Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things’
About the Author: Phil Birch is a leadership expert and the Business Development Director at The3rdi
You can hear interviews with a wide range of business experts on PASSION for the PLANET radio and listen on-demand to interviews via this site.