Recently I was asked to explain the difference between management and leadership.  Must all managers be leaders?  Should leaders be able to break their grand dreams and schemes into tactical action plans?  What is a leader anyway?  After slogging through pages of expert opinions, I can boil it down to a single pop culture reference.  (If you are one of the 3 people living under a rock in Montana who didn’t see Lord of the Rings, skip ahead to the next paragraph…)  Gandalf (and Elrond but lets not muddy the waters) has the vision – take the ring to Mordor and destroy it.  He holds a big meeting, makes a great speech, inspires everyone to get moving in the right direction and then promptly disappears to deal with other high level strategic issues such as battling demons and fighting off other wizards.  Aragorn is tasked with diligently slogging in the trenches keeping morale up, stabbing pesky evil guys and building strategic relationships with elves.  The leader sets up the target, inspires the troops and then moves on to other things while the manager develops and implements a tactical plan to achieve the goal.

Great organizations need both roles, whether they are embodied in a single person or split among several individuals.  Great managers need to actively develop and grow their leadership skills.  So how can you find out whether you and your organization have both pieces in place?

Self Evaluation – Are you an effective leader?  Are your management skills up to scratch?  The best way to find out is to ask your team, your colleagues and your manager.  Consider using a 360 degree feedback tool to uncover your strengths and weaknesses and then build a plan to grow your skills.

Get Reading!  A constant flow of new ideas and inspiration help you grow in your role.  Don’t let your brain stagnate – keep challenging yourself to see motivation in new ways.

Be Authentic – In the introduction of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey states the following:

If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other – while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity – then in the long run, I cannot be successful.

Simply put, you cannot lie and lead at the same time.

If you find, after taking a good hard look at yourself and your organization, that you are not providing either the high level leadership your team needs, or the tactical planning skills to get your team to the finish line, get together with your management team and figure out why.

Are your leadership skills holding you back? I can help! Contact me to see what a little coaching can do for your career!

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