What is the difference between management and leadership?
And when is it appropriate to manage or lead your staff? The increasing rate of change today in a business environment is placing the emphasis on individuals to step more into a leadership role. Gone are the days where you could just turn up for work and manage your team. Today employees are looking for a work environment that gives them a sense of safety, ways to be creative and also a sense of community or team. Whereas in the past, managers were expected to maintain the status quo in order to move ahead, leaders today must be visionary, being both learners and teachers at the same time. Leadership requires you to have a strong sense of ethics and you must be able to work towards building and teaching integrity in your business.
The biggest difference between being a manager and a leader is in the way you motivate, inspire and communicate with your staff. Many business owners by the way are both. In small businesses owners often need to manage the day to day operations, as well as lead and inspire a team to keep morale and productivity up. Holding and translating to staff the bigger picture for growing the business and for achieving strategic goals, requires leadership thinking.
Personality style and traits of a leader…
If you are looking to develop your leadership skills first you must understand and become aware of what traits, attitudes and behaviour a leader would be able to demonstrate. Then look at developing these within yourself. In 1954, Raymond Cattell, developed and designed the Leadership Potential equation, leading the way in the field of personality assessment.
I have taken from Cattell’s Leadership Potential equation a number of leadership and personality traits I feel are important to have as a leader, these are:
Where to start when developing your leadership qualities…
Some of you might be thinking that the list seems rather long and how can one person have all of these traits within them? Leaders are rarely (if ever) born. Circumstances and the experiences we have in life, play a major part in the developmental process of any leader. To become more of a leader, work on developing those traits in your personality that you feel are not present or that you think are your weakest.
Personal leadership traits play a major role in determining who will and who will not be comfortable leading others. However, it's important to remember that people can adapt their style and change. It will also depend on your beliefs relating to leadership. Some years ago in a conversation with a colleague I was told that I would make a great leader. This surprised me as I had never thought of myself as a leader. Further on in the conversation I uncovered a number of beliefs that I had that related to being a leader. To me if you were a leader you would either eventually be put in jail (Neilson Mandela) or killed (a number of presidents around the world)! Stepping into a leadership role definitely was not something that I believed to be safe! However once I become aware of these beliefs I was able to change them.
I would encourage you to sit down somewhere quiet. Take a few moments to think about some of your beliefs (what is true for you) you might have that would stop you from becoming a leader, and write them down. These thoughts are statements, usually your first ones, before you start to rationalize your thinking. And they don’t necessarily have to make sense either. At a rational thinking level I also believed that not all leaders were put in jail or killed. The mind both unconscious and conscious does not rationalize what is real or not real. It just believes what you tell it! And you create your life from these thoughts. So accessing what you believe leadership to mean first is critical in the change process. Once you have your list then you can start to become aware of what you believe to be true and choose to change how you think.
Some styles find leadership easier than other styles…
In the DISC psychometric profile that I have spoke about in a previous article, people with the more dominant style “D” find it easier to lead as they naturally have traits of problem solving, can think of the big picture and can make things happen. However these individuals still need to develop their people skills and empathy for others, qualities a leader would have. And they can at times be very controlling, and find working in a team rather challenging.
For instance, if you have all of the basic leadership traits but do not consider yourself very much of a "people" person, taking classes or reading books on empathy could be away of developing this trait. On the other hand, if relating to others has always come naturally to you, but you have trouble making decisions, learning how to develop your problem solving skills could help develop the trait of problem solving.
Once you have written your list of what stops you from becoming a leader, then look to see what traits are missing in your style based on Cattell’s list or that are the weakest. And then design your development goals. These goals could include participating in some personal development programme, reading books, working with a life/business coach or finding a mentor. Remember a development goal must be able to give you an awareness of what is stopping you from becoming a leader. It must be able to give you support or new information that creates change in your attitude, beliefs or behaviour.
So at the end of the day leadership comes from within, and starts with a choice. Some people may be thrown into the leadership role and some may choose it willingly. Whether you choose to manage or lead your staff is up to you. In my experience as a business owner, facilitator and coach, today people are looking for leadership more than ever. I have learnt that being a leader can leave one with a sense of making a difference, and pride in knowing that you have contributed to the achievement of others. The first step to becoming a leader is to become aware of what you are thinking. I would like to leave you with a poem written by an unknown author that describes a part of the leadership journey beautifully. Enjoy…
Sandra is very passionate about supporting others to be the best they can be through sharing her stories and experiences she has gained along the way...