Leadership development is a multi million-dollar industry with thousands of voices touting the next ideal formula to build a successful leader. The differences between management and leadership have been debated for years. Yet one thing remains constant, organizations rely on leadership (both formal and informal) for their success. While “leadership” can feel like an elusive topic, there are several things I know to be true. To begin, leaders who are self aware, know their values and leverage those for the organization are more successful. In addition, management and leadership are different concepts yet intimately connected. Finally, leadership requires hard work.
Simon Sinek believes that great leaders start with “why”; what is the higher purpose to our work that drives “what we do” and “how we do it”. In a world hit with one crisis after another, the challenge for every organization is to be relevant to customers, employees and stakeholders. Leaders are tasked to create agile and responsive organizations, filled with people who are passionate about delivering value to the people they serve. However, how do we create a corporate culture that brings the most out of each individual? The key is being confident in your personal “why”. Successful leaders are able to create a culture of engagement that stems from the alignment of personal and organizational values. A leader’s awareness of their own personal values allows them to generate alignment to organizational culture with others, influence behaviour and decision-making, attract people or repel others from leadership, and identify areas of opportunity for personal development.
The debate around management vs leadership is ongoing. According to Peter Drucker, “management is doing things right, while leadership is doing the right things”. It takes leadership skills AND management capabilities to create a high performance organization fully focused on achieving meaningful results. Leaders do this by capturing the hearts, minds, energy and talents of everyone in the organization. Having strong management abilities helps to secure appropriate resources, define decision making latitude and develop competencies and other important aspects for completing tasks proficiently. Leadership and management are not exclusive, leaders require management skills to “get things done” while managers need leadership skills to motivate and inspire. I believe creating a legacy of achievement is best done by talented people who are excellent at both leading and managing – we are not in an either/or world but an and/also world. When authentic leaders lead from the front, inspiring people to act, and managers provide the resources and tools, high performance is guaranteed.
Realizing leadership potential is hard work. It is a never-ending process of self-reflection and development. The awareness of leaders around their areas for development or “blind spots” can be the most critical for their success. The very best leaders and managers I’ve worked with, coached or developed are skilled at identifying the opportunities and challenges around them and can provide clarity to their teams despite the inherent ambiguity that leaders often face. They believe in developing the skills of their team and are not afraid to surround themselves with people who can help fill their own skill gaps. They are always encouraging – some might say even pushing – people to achieve more and self-actualize. They relish the idea of creating a legacy built on creating an improved and different organization, ready and able to respond to almost any challengesthrown their way.
I have worked with thousands of leaders around the world. The most effective leaders and managers share the ability to leverage their own values, understand the values of true leadership and management, and are on a constant path of self-development. They have done both the self-reflection and the hard work to find their own voice. The leaders we love to work with may not be the best at everything they do, but they show up and give their best every day, willingly giving their time, energy and expertise to achieve a legacy. Fueled by a reason or purpose for doing what they do so passionately – a personal “why” – great leaders inspire others in building stronger organizations and lasting legacies.
April 2, 2018
ps- Check out the Executive Management Program for Executive Education at the DeGroote School of Business
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