The leadership style is slowly but surely changing and raises the question, ‘Are you managing or leading?’ No matter our title, role, or business type, we each have the opportunity to manage or lead.
In the past, anyone in management was revered as a leader. Their style was to mandate how employees were to do their jobs without whatsoever. Anyone attempting to speak up was seen as being insubordinate and usually fired.
Thankfully, the authority style is changing and will hopefully advance further as many give due consideration to the possibilities. Managing provides limited results, whereas demonstrating what leadership can be and encouraging others to take the reigns can make a significant difference for a business.
For generations, the mandate to work how I dictate was in vogue. But interruptions began to happen as information became more accessible and employees became aware that not everyone fits the same model.
My style of interruption in the corporate arena was to ask questions that created a need to consider alternatives and disrupt the norm. One favorite story is the following:
By my fourth sales job, I knew the selling process and, more importantly, was in tune with what clients preferred. The sales manager was tasked with joining me on an appointment with a prospective client. I had already built rapport via other communications, and we were looking forward to meeting.
Upon hearing me say to the prospective client, ‘We may not be the least expensive option, we may be the most expensive. The reason is that I strive to deliver the best value by serving clients like you well.’ The manager kicked me so hard under the chair that I jumped. The client knew something was going on but continued with our conversation.
Upon our return to the office, the manager demanded in an authoritative voice that I begin selling like everyone else, or he would personally fire me. With an innocent look on my face (but not my mind), I asked, ‘If I’m doing everything wrong, can you please explain why I’m always at the top of the sales scoreboard?’ The manager begrudgingly left to head to his office and, at 5:00 pm, ran for his care to drive home.
Managing or Leading:
- Train everyone to do their job uniformly.
- Give instructions across the board to all employees.
- Use a checklist to ensure reports follow every expectation.
- Confirm no exceptions exist.
- Use the mentality, ‘I am your boss, don’t question me.’
- Upon becoming familiar with employees, encourage work in their style to be more effective.
- Together, create a plan with each report for the achievements they wish to see.
- Admit to shortcomings on topics and ask for input from the team to implement a more robust approach.
- Develop an inclusive team effort where everyone feels secure and wants to provide their suggestions.
- Applaud those who surpass your status.
It’s up to us how we want to proceed with our careers and work with others.
Are You Managing or Leading?
Whether you are in an official role as a manager or feel like you are in an entry position, you have a choice for managing or leading your career. It’s necessary to come to terms with what you want and how you will achieve it.
The better managers realize that no one has all the answers, including themselves. We finally accepted that a collaborative effort for entrepreneurs or corporate environments works best. Working to benefit a wider audience is when we take ideas from a diverse population.
Hearing everyone out concerning their thoughts and taking the better ideas works to our benefit. Accordingly, new ideas may surface that contribute to a more robust effort. Moreover, partners and employees will tend to remain for the long term. The importance is that business is more likely to stay steady, including the clientele.
In Conclusion: Are You Managing or Leading?
When we encourage people to strive to go further than they believe possible, that’s a sign of a good leader. The reward is in knowing you helped another or many to advance their careers. No matter the business style, we build loyalty when we act as leaders encouraging others. Our reward is seeing the advances and knowing that we contribute to the business’s bottom line.