It has been a hectic winter. Two assignments later, on different continents (not to mention Christmas and then Easter), I realized I have been neglecting my blog and I must apologize for that. Nevertheless, even though my assignments have been quite different a similar theme has emerged. That theme is the importance of leadership and the difference between managers and leaders.
Ok I know this is nothing knew and a lot has been written on this subject, but somehow I still run into this issue almost everywhere I go. I guess one of the biggest reasons for this is that true leaders tend to be controversial, they tend not follow orders like a manager would but to seek purpose and understanding; and that can get uncomfortable for senior management. Besides, in the business world, people will rarely get promoted for the leadership abilities but rather for their knowledge of the process. The sad reality is though: the higher you get, in an organization, the more leadership skills you need and the less important your management skills become. It is impossible for a CEO to control everything that goes on in his/her organization, they have to inspire trust and rely on their subordinates. The CEO, who tries to control everything, may run a tight ship but they will inevitably be weak on vision, strategy and direction as they will be too busy trying to control everything.
There is nothing worst for morale than employees doubting the capabilities of their senior management/leadership. They either don’t feel understood, or worst, they feel management just does not care about them. This is why, if nothing else, walking the shop floor is probably the easiest action that can be taken by managers/leaders to reinforce communications and inspire trust. By walking around the plant/area, not only do you make yourself visible and give people the opportunity to engage you in conversation; you can also observe how people work, how they maintain their area of responsibility or pick up on issues you can follow up with managers responsible for the area. However, a word of caution, you need to engage people during your tour, if all you do is walk around without talking to anyone, you are projecting the image of a spy and will be treated as such.
People generally look for role models to emulate. Your role as a leader is to be that role model. Your job is to create purpose for their work, enable them to contribute and provide feedback to help them grow. Managers have subordinates, leaders have followers; how many followers do you have?