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Leadership in the Workplace

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exercise no. 4: are you a leader or a manager?

Are You a Leader or a Manager?
Take the leadership challenge. Explore these leadership competencies and discover the difference between leading and managing.
Brian Ward

When you become a leader, you take on a great promise to change the world for the better. 

If your reaction to this statement is ‘I’m only managing an organization, or department, or project, I’m not out to change the world’, then I respectfully suggest that you learn to be a good manager, but not a leader. 

Leaders cause positive change to happen, through people. 

Managers control things.  That’s it.  The world needs great leaders. It has its fill of managers. 

What is a leader?

If you feel that you are not sure whether you are truly committed to becoming a great leader, if you have not yet made that decision, I would like you to take a look at two scenarios: 

What if you were to make a total commitment to becoming a great leader? Project yourself ahead 3 to 5 years from now. You have become a great leader. Visualize what positive impact you are having on the world around you… 

  • How has the world benefited from your actions?

  • What does that feel like?

  • What type of people are you associating with?

  • Who are you collaborating with?

  • Who else is totally committed to the same cause as you?

  • What positive actions are you and these people taking?

  • How are other people responding to your successes?

  • How worthwhile and meaningful has your life become?

  • What does that feel like?

  • How are you growing and developing?

  • How does all this differ from today?

What if you were to be less than fully committed to becoming a great leader? Project yourself ahead 3 to 5 years from now. You are in a leadership position. Visualize how things will be… 

  • Have things changed much, or not at all?

  • Who are you associating with…perhaps others who are also less than fully committed?

  • What positive impact have you had on the world around you? Less than you desired?

  • How do you feel about that?

  • How worthwhile and meaningful has your life become?

  • How does all this differ from today?

I have no doubt that the first scenario is one that you probably desire, as we all do. The second scenario is one that you probably want to have no part of.  

Many leaders however get caught somewhere between the two scenarios, and feel at a loss about what to do.  So they reach out to ‘techniques’ to solve their dilemma. I have seen many leaders get caught up in fads, and I also have had the pleasure of being associated with leaders who knew the distinction between WHAT they were attempting to achieve and HOW they achieved it, and so avoided the fads. 

That led me to crystallize my thoughts and experiences into five key facets of high performance leadership. Keep these facets foremost in your mind, and you won’t go astray.  By exploring these areas you will be led to discover insights and above all take action concerning five key facets of your leadership… 

FOCUS: Developing your leadership focus, understanding its true significance to the world around you and how truly committed you are to achieving it

AUTHENTICITY: Discovering how much you know about yourself as an authentic leader, your beliefs and values, your strengths and weaknesses and how others perceive your authenticity

COURAGE: your level of courage and persistence, your ability and willingness to identify and stop doing those things that don’t support your focus, to start doing some new things that will support it, and to improve dramatically in other areas that will benefit your focus, both personally and organizationally

EMPATHY: your ability to listen to and work through other people, to garner support for your focus, to develop an atmosphere of collegiality and inclusiveness, and to empower others who share your focus

TIMING: your sense of timing in getting things done when they need to be done. Your ability to get off the treadmill and concentrate on what matters most to your focus, and to enable others to do the same

The world needs great leaders…if you want to become one, explore these facets. A word of caution however…once you start asking questions of yourself in these five areas, you will find that there will be no turning back. Proceed only if you are serious, only if you truly have the desire to become a great leader…

How Leading differs from Managing

Here are some major comparisons of how leading and managing differ:

Leading Managing
Creating a clear and compelling vision of the future, which may look altogether different from today Facing current reality, and taking actions to deal with immediate issues, challenges and obstacles to daily performance
Making major change happen. Achieving breakthroughs in performance, and sometimes 'breakaway' performance, such as entering new markets, acquiring much different types of customers, or even committing to an entirely new mission Controlling things, keeping things in a state of equilibrium (but not status quo)

Achieving incremental improvements in performance

Staying loyal to the mission

Taking big risks, innovating Managing or mitigating risk
Developing and implementing strategy Managing tactics