I remember a moment 15 years ago when I told my boss, and told him with conviction, that I realized my job was for him to not to have to worry about what I was doing at all. My job was to eliminate the need for him to have to manage me or any part of the business I was running. The reaction was a genuine expression of relief on his part and we have operated under that creed without wavering for the last 15 years. The other thing it did was allow him to go focus on other ventures and continue growing (This is what I would call nirvana for a leader; to have other leaders impacting growth in an exponential way). Another vivid memory from an event that occurred in the last 3 years was when a new and very strategic team member came on board. That person said the same thing, except this time it was directed a me; I was relieved and rejuvenated; it is what I wanted and needed.
Managers lay out a plan and tell their folks what to do. They inspect, coach, and make sure the results are being realized. The team members they manage expect them to do these things, which often limits strategic thinking, leadership development, and overall growth all the way down the food chain. Organizations really only get the boost and the growth when managers transition to leaders and have more expectations from their teams, and of themselves. It is on the existing leaders in the organization to stop doing what they have always done, and let/require the up and coming managers/leaders take the reins. This requires acceptance that mistakes will happen, which is alright as long as new/different inspection systems are put in place so that mistakes are not detrimental. This also requires managers to subscribe to the leadership concept of “if it is to be, it is up to me”, and the underlying principle that their job is to make sure their leaders do not have to develop strategy, worry, or handle execution for the area they are in charge of. It is also on the manager/up and coming leader to not let their leader do their work. Leadership development is a two-way street, especially in high growth organizations where everyone is growing and replacing themselves.
Regardless if we are thinking about Management or Leadership concepts, everyone needs to feel supported. Even the President/CEO needs to feel supported by their Board, Leadership Team, etc.. However, there is a huge difference when it comes to support expectations and how they differ between Leaders and Managers. In summary, the less managing/leading you need yourself, the more of a leader you have become.
Manager’s (Someone who has not crossed the Leadership Chasm) beliefs on the type of support they need:
- Leadership training
- Feedback on performance
- Assistance with personnel matters
- Assistance drafting strategy
- Assistance creating inspection systems
- Assistance in motivating team members
Leader’s beliefs on the type of support they need:
- Feedback/Accountability from their Leader/Board – Primarily when they ask for it.
- Validation of the plans, inspection systems, culture/people/motivation strategy that they put together
So if you would classify yourself as a Manager or an Up and Coming Leader, who is trying to get cross the chasm into full leadership, have you looked your leader in the eye and said – “I got this and I understand and am committed to doing what it takes so you do not have to worry about my area”? If you are not ready to say this – don’t. And only say it if you really understand what it means to fully lead and ready for that awesome responsibility. Also know that your leader wants you to do this, expects you to get there, and that it is your growth path. Own it – Crush it!