Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Are you managing or leading?

Are you a manager or a leader?  The answer to that question will mean the difference between being stagnant in your career or being on an upward track.

The word "manager," according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is "someone who is in charge of a business, department, etc.; someone who directs the training and performance of a team."  A "leader" is "a person who leads or commands a group, organization or team."

On the surface, they appear the same, but really look at the words.  Describing one as "in charge" and the other as "leads" makes all the difference.  You don't have to be in charge to be a leader and being a manager doesn't automatically make you a leader.

It's time to do some honest self-analysis to determine if you're a manager or a leader:

  • Do you constantly have to nag and cajole your employees to get anything done or are they a self-sufficient team that knows what to do and gets it done?
  • Do you feel comfortable delegating or do you feel no one can do things as well as you can, so you do it all yourself?
  • Do you talk with your employees only when scheduled or do you know what's going on with each of your team members?
  • What's your reaction to problems?  Do you look at who's to blame or are you working toward a solution and resolution?
Did you spot the differences?  It's all about mindset.  A manager has employees; a leader has team members.  A leader easily delegates, knowing it doesn't matter how the job gets done, as long as it gets done; a manager is worried that no one can do it as well as he/she can do it.  A leader is in the middle of the team, in good times and bad, digging in and getting things done as part of the team; a manager stands above the fray, separate and above the employees.

Why does this matter?  A leader, regardless of their job title, will be respected and is more apt to engender respect and loyalty.  A manager is feared and employees are less likely to feel tied to either the manager or the company for which they work.

You don't have to guess as to whether you're one or the other; here are some tell-tale signs:
  • You're a manager, if you see:
    • High employee turnover (more than five percent)
    • Low morale
    • Constantly have to poke and prod employees to get things done
    • Lots of meetings with low participation
    • Poor work quality
    • High absenteeism
    • Lots of overtime needed
    • You feel dissatisfied, stressed, overworked, underpaid and don't seem to get anything done
  • You're a leader, if you see:
    • Camaraderie among the team members
    • High work quality and deadlines met
    • Few meetings but lots of conversation
    • Low absenteeism
    • Low overtime needed
    • Less personal stress, more personal satisfaction and contentment
If you find that you're a manager and not a leader, there's hope.  You can change and build your employees into a team, but you'll have to take some drastic steps.  You have to be teachable, coachable.  And you have to be willing to change.

Next time:  Become the leader you want to be