Are you a Great “Manager”
In the 1970’s and early 1980’s the buzz word in business was “Management”. Success was achieved by bringing order and systems into their businesses. Business during this time was far more static and predictable, than it is today and so managing your business was a pretty powerful way for promoting effectiveness and reducing costs. Managers had their place and served business well, albeit from a very limited perspective, during this time. The shortcomings of management as a way to lead people was only be exposed, as we moved into the middle to late 1980’s. The pace of change sped up during this time and successfully operating business, using systems and procedures, became more and more difficult.
Guidelines and Rules vs. Leadership
Management is fantastic for building machines and organising information. It is however, far too impersonal, bureaucratic and rigid to have continued working when the pace of change increased and people and their expectations changed. As all businesses are made up of people, the bigger it is in size, the more people it has and the more complex will be, the relationships within the business. It is for this reason that the concept of leadership evolved, where people could be inspired, directed and developed to support the business to succeed. Rather than managed, systematised and controlled.
Leadership in the Modern workplace
Virtually every leader I encounter every day has embraced the concept of technology, which is really great. The challenge with this is that many of them try to use technology to lead their people. It astounds me how many leaders, feel that they need to communicate their vision to their teams and then they do this via email. Wow can you imagine a more impersonal way of communicating with your team. How can you possibly get people to support and take ownership of something, when it is delivered in such an impersonal and distant manner?
Some Leaders do try a Little harder
There are a few leaders out there who do call a meeting with their teams, where they conduct the dialogue of the dead, where they impose their vision on their teams.
As George Bernard Shaw so eloquently said, “The single biggest problem with communication, is the illusion that it has taken place”
Although these leaders do try a little harder, it is still impossible to truly lead your team, unless you, show them that you really care about them, you show them that you can be trusted and that you are willing to give them a voice.
As Michael P Wilson said, “Really hearing someone is an expression of caring enough to listen to them”
If you want your people to really support you as a leader, then it is imperative that you give them a voice and actually listen to what they have to say. This approach will firstly allow them to be heard and show them that you really care about them, which in turn will encourage them to willingly follow you. It will also potentially be an incredible source of valuable information about their experience and observations. They may reveal new ideas, which you may never have surfaced, had you not encouraged their input. Always remember that many minds make a formidable force. Great leaders know that they must use all the resources at their disposal, especially the collective knowledge, experience and skill of their entire team.
Becoming a Leader
Once you have established the tenets of leadership, namely trust, caring, listening to people and serving their interests. It does become possible to communicate with them on a more impersonal level. The secret though is to never lose sight of the importance of the human touch. There can and never will be a substitute for interaction with your team, no matter how long you have known them or how well you may connect with or gel with them.
As a leader, even if you may be based in a different location from your team, it is crucial that you schedule time to connect with them on a regular basis. I am not talking about arriving at the office and breezing through to the board room to chat to the EXCO. You need to really try to connect with individuals on a more personal level. Be innovative and always try to cultivate some kind of personal relational connection with as many stakeholders in your organisation as possible.
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