April 2015

Leading or Managing?  Yes to Both.

Just ask anyone if there’s a difference between managing and leading. Most will say there is – but many will have difficulty defining the difference or identifying when each is appropriate. We’ve all heard the typical answer – you manage things and lead people. Way too simple? I think so. The opportunity calls for self-reflection and role re-definition to recognize how to both manage and lead effectively.

I've covered this topic in several past newsletters, and it continues to be a key focus area with many of my clients.   Many struggle to let go of “doing” the work of the team, or telling the team “how” to do the work.  Most leadership promotions are still awarded to the best “doers” and “achievers”.  Re-framing and re-defining success within the leadership role is required. And while this involves knowing what to let go of (typically being the expert), it also means understanding how to balance the expertise of managing with effective leadership.

Balance between the dance floor and the balcony

Here's a helpful analogy beautifully described by Heifetz and Linsky in their book, Leadership on the Line. Imagine a dance floor with a large balcony above it.  When you’re dancing on the floor, you’re focused primarily on your partner.  Your perspective of the dance is based on your performance and perhaps a few couples nearby.  But until you’re on the balcony and off the dance floor can you look across the floor to gain a new perspective.  You’ll see important patterns like - who is dancing in sync, who is sitting the dance out, and who needs more help than others.  

Good leaders are able to recognize when to dive into the details on the dance floor and when to step up on the balcony to observe and distance themselves from the details to effectively lead and guide the team strategically.

Take a few moments to reflect on the following questions. Your answers will help you determine if you are leading and not just managing... 

Questions to Ask Yourself:

1.    Are you focusing on broad patterns, finding connections, looking out to the future and shaping the vision to create the engagement and motivation to move your team to achieve?
2.    Are you creating a work environment that encourages learning and development versus simply creating control and compliance?
3.    How are you consciously impacting the emotional energy around you? Are you aware of the real impact you have on others?
4.    To what extent are you focused on the "what" and not the "how"? 

Ideas to try:

•    Allow yourself some quiet time each day (even just 15 minutes) to step outside the daily activities and conduct a strategic planning meeting with yourself.  Despite overwhelm and chaos, there’s always the opportunity to stop, and reflect before acting.

•    Take a few moments at the end of each day to determine how your time was split between the ‘dance floor’ and the ‘balcony’.

"Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; Leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall"
- Stephen Covey

Are you achieving the results you want?
The best leaders make simple shifts or practical changes for big results.  I work closely with leaders to create practical solutions to achieve real success. Let me help you discover what's possible. Visit my website www.terrihughes.com for details.

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