Oct 31, 2012

Manager or Leader?

As I was reading through an email from LinkedIn this morning, I found a post that was surprising and even a little disturbing.  I’m the kind of person that assumes the best about everyone I meet.  Even if a person exhibits poor behavior, I know that there is a good intention behind it…however deep it might be buried.  With that thought in mind, this article that is published on Inc.’s website is titled “World’s Worst Management Secret“.  As I began to read the article, I realized he wasn’t really writing about management, but leadership.  I have a strong opinion that things and processes are managed; people are led.

A book that I read earlier this year well describes how I view leadership and motivation.  The book is “Drive” by Daniel Pink.  The reason I purchased the book is because I saw a video of Pink speaking at a TED conference about motivation and his thoughts and leadership philosophy align with mine.  In fact, I could have written that book.  So, when I read the article this morning, the following comment didn’t sit well:

In your first (or next) meeting with each direct report ask:

  • How do you prefer to be managed?
  • What can I do to help you excel?
  • What types of management annoy you?

Listen (really listen) to the response and then, as far as you are able, adapt your coaching, motivation, compensation, and so forth to match that individual’s needs.

The author uses the word “annoy” in one of those questions.  And, those questions certainly annoyed me.  I felt I had been transported back to the 1980’s.  How are you feeling when you are asked to be “managed”?  What thoughts are coming to your mind when you think of someone in “management” coming to see you?  You know you are in for being hovered over for details and the following of processes and procedures.  Again, those ‘things’ do need managed and people need to be led.  Again, I have a strong opinion that if a person is going to point out something as needing changed, then they should come prepared to offer a solution.  Let me offer these questions in place of the ones above:

  • What type of leader do you prefer to follow?
  • What resources can I provide to help you succeed?
  • What type of things tend to to stand in your way of succeeding at your job?

I know the author of the article I read had good, even great, intention.  I believe he just needs to reframe what he is saying to the current times and needs of today’s business environment.

Please leave a comment, as I would love to hear what you have to say!  And, please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance to you and your leadership team.

Creating life in forward motion,

Edward Lewellen



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