The ideal manager has no trouble leading. They are confident, organised and authoritative…
Unfortunately, whilst these are all traits of a good manager, they’re also the traits that I’ve seen in bad management.
You see, the title of ‘manager’ is often mistaken for ‘leader’ and as such, we often find ourselves in a dictatorship, of sorts.
That’s not to say managers can’t be good leaders.
The best of them are.
But I would be lying if I told you that, in my experience, this was often the case.
So, what makes a good leader?
Leaders Inspire Teamwork
Leaders seek to inspire their peers. They understand that a syncronised team of highly effective people is more potent than multiple highly effective individuals working autonomously. They know that by nurturing a collective pool of thought as opposed to subjectively dipping their toes into multiple pools, they’re maximising on the potential of the entire team instead of just drawing from separate ideologies within a multifaceted workforce. The leader puts less focus on doing the task their way and more focus on doing it our way.
Leaders Take Risks
Leaders embrace failure. They know that failure is merely a stepping stone on the path to success and are willing to traverse this risky territory in order to reach a higher level of personal and professional achievement. Managers are more likely to look for a safer road and are generally willing to take shortcuts, even if it means staying on the same level. If there are no other options, you’ll likely find them stood in the same place, trying to avoid making eye contact with the leaders on the other side of the stepping stones in front of them.
Leaders are agents of change. They fundamentally reject sticking to the status quo and understand that whilst innovation might temporarily cause ripples in a companies waters, the chances of those waters stagnating are diminutive. Rather than attempting to refine and structure processes, micromanaging every detail, leaders are actively encouraging each member of the team to come up with new ways to create the next wave. These waves are key to a company’s long-term growth.
Leaders See Beyond The Short-Term
Leaders are engineers of long-term success. They understand that whilst short-term achievements feel good, these are not always in the best interest of a company’s ultimate goal. Leaders are willing to make small sacrifices for the good of the company and its team. Managers falter at the sight of a dip in the road and gloat when they jump over a puddle.
Leaders Develop New Skills, Constantly
Leaders actively pursue personal-development in their everyday. Like a sponge, they absorb any and all information they can get their hands on. You’ll often find them asking questions as they’re always seeking to expand their knowledge and they won’t stop at other management either. Leaders don’t see a hierarchy in terms of personal experience. They know that every member of the team has something to offer, otherwise, they wouldn’t have made the cut in the first place. You’ll often find managers in the corner of the room wondering why the skills that got them the job aren’t attaining the same results as they were ten years ago. Despite this, they will still try to perfect these same skills as opposed to acquiring new ones.
Leaders Are Honest And Fair
Leaders are not afraid to be transparent. This applies both personally and professionally. They often ask for feedback and in much the same way are comfortable with providing it, too. Leaders can be trusted because they want what’s best for everyone and not just themselves.
Leaders Nurture The Unique
Whilst managers are excellent at allocating jobs and measuring productivity, leaders understand that their team’s strengths reside in different places. They actively encourage each member to consistently produce their best work and are open to new ideas and opinions that might benefit the project as a whole. They take this on board and are respectful in their response. Leaders provide support but try to allow their team to flourish on their own terms. Managers assign tasks and give guidance. Your ideas are generally not necessary as your role hasn’t been designed to require much thought aside from the skills that you’ve demonstrated thus far.
Leaders Are Inclusive
Leaders go beyond pleasing their boss. They aim to capture the hearts of every member of the team. Whilst managers consider themselves to be higher up the pecking order, Leaders strive to be as inclusive as possible. Leaders will answer to you, not because they have to but because they want to. In doing so, they create a pleasant environment that inspires growth and development. Managers expect their employees to be compliant and acquiescent. The working environment is often secondary to the work at hand.
There are countless managers that are excruciatingly terrible leaders.
This is because management and leadership are two different disciplines and to be good at one does not equate to being good at the other, contrary to what bad managers would have you believe.
That said, management and leadership aren’t exclusive of one another. Both disciplines can be utilised simultaneously and you’ll find that the best managers in the world do exactly that.