It’s incredibly common for a manager to think they’re a leader and a leader who thinks they’re a manager. They’re incredibly different but they do need to work hand-in-hand.
Leadership is about using our personal power to win the hearts and minds of others, to achieve a common purpose. It sounds flowery but incredibly true! Our personal power – our values, strength, presence and impact upon others is what we should exert as much as much as possible. You can’t fail at being yourself – the same goes with leadership. You can’t fail. Winning hearts and minds is possibly the hardest part of leadership and it comes with practice but it also comes with being yourself, you need to win the trust, respect and confidence of whoever you’re leading so that you can lead them. When it comes to minds, you need to make sure that you give clear direction and expectations but also give those people you lead a sense of ownership. Give them a sense of authority and responsibility, even if it’s of a project of their own and they’ll excel!
And purpose, well – that’s the easiest part! You need to ensure people understand why you’re giving them a task and what the common purpose you want to achieve, actually is!
A lot of people think ‘rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in’ is great leadership. It’s not. In fact, it’s not leading by example, it’s disruptive. A leader should lead and be there for support, but never disrupt.
I absolutely love the ‘helicopter approach’ – most places I’ve worked, the CEO or the ‘leader’ often focuses far too much on the strategy and detail of a task but isn’t that what they’ve employed me to do? Do you see now why it’s disruptive? I’m not able to excel and prove myself when the so-called leader is doing the task. It’s not ‘mucking in’. As soon as I got into a leadership role, I’ve fully encapsulated the helicopter approach into what I do. I lead the team to manage the task. And it’s as simple as that. I’m the helicopter than can land whenever the troops on the ground want me to and I’m that helicopter that doesn’t take off and fly away.
So there you have it – leadership is using your personal power to win the hearts and minds of others and management is focusing on the strategy and detail. A manager looks at process and a leader looks at people. After all, you can’t lead anything else.
This blog was written with a huge thanks to Stephen Owen and Simon Maddrell of ‘Excellent Development’ who successfully nominated me as a ‘Future Leader’ with The Leadership Trust’