It’s the foremost law; people tolerate being managed, but love being led. First, consider how often you have heard people complaining to each other about management. One might expect staff to rebel against poor management, but they rarely do so. One strident employee may say, ‘We’ll tell them.’ But if he opens his mouth to complain, and then looks over his shoulder for support, suddenly he finds himself standing alone. People often complain to each other about their manager but open mutiny is almost unheard of. This is probably the main reason why so many incompetent managers continue to have free rein to make people’s life at work so disagreeable. Working for an inept manager can be very unpleasant. It can also be very frustrating because his or her incompetence holds back your own performance. You may even appear to be responsible for his or her mistakes, making you look foolish in front of clients, suppliers or co-workers.
Working for a manager of only average ability is not much better, yet people tolerate this and get on with their job. When the manager is fully competent, then people respond by doing a competent job. Good management elicits competent performance because people know what to do, by when and to what standard of performance. And their personal effort is coordinated with the work of those around them. But is that good enough?Consider how the following descriptors highlight the essential difference between management and leadership at work:
Manage: Run, Direct, Administer, Supervise, Deal with, Handle, Control.
Lead: Guide, Show the way, Direct, Pilot, Escort, Go In Front, Go Ahead, Conduct
Management without leadership produces only a competent performance because, although the manager organizes the team efficiently, the team is not motivated to give their very best. Add leadership and now people feel inspired to try harder. Performance lifts to much higher levels. When people work for a good leader they feel encouraged, supported and believed in. They want to contribute all that they are capable of, and they feel positive about the future. They feel less controlled, more encouraged. This empowering experience increases team enthusiasm and energy levels and helps create an expectation that the team will do well. But leadership alone is not enough. Leadership without management will fail through a lack of coordinated direction. Management and leadership together spark off the highest levels of achievement. Both leader and team enjoy the buzz they feel from achieving things together, which is why people love to work for a first-rate leader. The best leaders do more than merely organize and control their people. Either through instinct, or by intelligent thought, they know how to handle each situation so that the ordinary people around them produce extraordinary results.
If you have been fortunate enough to work for one of these leaders, you will remember how you felt motivated to go the extra mile and give your best. You will have found working with them more enjoyable, not necessarily fun-filled days, but fulfilling because you achieved so much, which was extremely satisfying. When working for this person you felt motivated and confident of your success. Effective leaders do not work extra hard. In fact, they often appear more relaxed and easy-going, but they are very active people setting the agenda through being intelligently proactive, and intelligently reacting to events and people issues as they occur.
The quickest way to learn leadership is on the job and the following 39 essential truths provide a resource to help you decide when to be proactive or reactive, on which issues and how to go about it