Are you newly appointed to a leadership position? Do you aspire to be seen as a leader? Through the course of my own leadership, advisory and consulting roles, I have seen leaders at all levels of organisations, many without fancy titles. I have also seen many people with titles denoting leadership positions who admit to struggling to do anything more than “just” manage. Over time, I’ve found myself sharing the same insights over and over again about the differences between leading and managing.
Leading is about bringing out the best in people towards achieving a vision. Here are four key aspects to keep in mind if you want to raise your game, independently of your title.
- Great leaders inspire and care about people. Develop behaviours and practices that create energy for yourself and for your team.
- Great leaders have a vision. If you don’t have a vision, or cannot communicate it effectively, or if team members don’t support the vision, it will be impossible to lead. The best you will be able to do is manage the day-to-day.
- Coaching is a big part of being a leader. Telling people what to do how to do it is not leading. It’s merely (micro-)managing and creating dependence. Great leaders develop others. By sharing a desired outcome and coaching your team as they develop and implement execution plans, you are creating growth and accountability. As Thomas Peters put it, “Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”
- Look in the mirror often. This takes hard work and contemplation. In my experience, realising that what bothers us is really about our own beliefs, and the ability to pause and reflect before reacting, completely changes conversations – and thus outcomes. The best leaders are able to put their egos aside.
As I write this, so many conversations and examples are running through my mind. I’d love to hear your own stories and insights!