One of the results of our current economy is the plethora or talent that is looking for employment opportunities. I have networked with many people in the midst of the unemployment struggle, and have discovered some interesting dynamics. One is that Corporate America has taught many of us to manage, but they have not shown us how to lead. Maybe that’s because most organizations do not develop leaders, they promote managers. So what is the difference?
Purely my opinion, but the true litmus test of a leader is the ability to produce other leaders. Not clones of you, but individual, unique people who make a difference purely because of who they are. Future leaders empowered to take the helm and move forward!
With their talents developed, business acumen understood, the ability to read a Profit & Loss statement and the desire to serve and develop all those who report to them. I found it ironic that many of the managers I had in my early years could barely manage their own day then alone help me with mine. Therefore I was criticized for not understanding something that was clearly their responsibility to teach me. I vowed to ensure this did not happen to me when the baton was mine to carry, metaphorically speaking.
So, how do we begin to develop the traits of a leader? Here are some steps that will help:
- First, learn to serve others, especially those under your command. While it sounds easy, you will find this difficult at first. We are so comfortable satisfying our own needs that it may be difficult to serve the needs of others ahead of ours.
- Second, search for the true gifts and talent of others, not just what display as they work for you. This may not be easily ascertained since it is often hidden under layers of stuff and not talked about much at the workplace. Develop this talent, even when you see no benefit for the current organization, because in the end, everyone wins when someone finds their way.
- Third, help people career plan past the current position. I like to encourage people to look three to five years out, focus on specific positions and the skills, education and experience necessary to perform them.
- Fourth, consider it a privilege and honor to promote people when they are ready to go, not when you are ready to release them. I have witnessed many qualified people passed by for a promotion simply due to the managers insecurity of having to re-train another member of the team/department.
- Fifth, encourage creativity in people, not just literary, financial or objective led incentives of the function or organization. This can be achieved with brain-storming sessions, out-of-the-box thinking meetings and the open sharing of ideas. The Power of WE is always greater than the Power of ME.
- Sixth, let them lead and make mistakes. As long as you help them learn from them, all involved become stronger through the process.
- Seventh, when it gets personal, it can become powerful. Take the time to know the names of their family members, their favorite color, restaurant, meal, dessert, etc. Sending cards and gifts becomes easier once you are privy to this level of information.
The choice is yours. Continue in your current ways and manage people as you have always done. Better yet, join me today in doing less managing and more leading. The future or your company depends on it!
Patrick Harter, Provision Team