A Bold Approach to Leadership Development

Managers or leaders?  Who is in charge of your company?  While terms like “manager” and “leader” are often used interchangeably within organizations, the skills and behaviors that define these roles can be quite different.

Managers get things done.  Give them something to control or organize, a task to accomplish, a schedule to create, a process to implement, or a project to oversee and they always excel. 

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Leadership_lane.jpgLeaders, on the other hand, create and gain buy-in for a vision, inspire employees to reach the company’s vision, and often motivate staff to do more with less over a sustained period of time.

Many organizations are currently faced with a multitude of external challenges ranging from a weakened or shrinking market for existing products to capitalizing on new and existing opportunities to increase market share (e.g., by entering new markets). 

At the same time, organizations need to address internal challenges such as increasing the productivity of a reduced employee base, generating innovative approaches to business operations, and maintaining employee engagement despite sustained pressure to improve performance. 

Fret not; there is hope!  Successfully meeting and overcoming these challenges requires the skills inherent to effective leadership, not management.  Managers maintain the status quo; leaders make things happen.  Look at your own company and ask yourself the following:

  • Does your company need to take its performance to the next level?
  • Is maintaining the status quo enough to keep your company profitable?
  • Are all the members of your leadership team on the same page?
  • Is your workforce simply going through the motions?
  • Are you dealing with hidden agendas or silos that are prohibiting effectiveness?
  • Are your “leaders” behaving and performing their jobs in the same style they have been for the last 10-20 years?

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crobj/458930272/in/photostream/If you’ve answered yes to some of these questions, then your organizational leadership may be in need of leader development coaching. There are many options for developing current managers and taking them to the next level as your organization’s leaders.

Offer Coaching

Establishing timelines and setting development goals as well as being held accountable for each are strategic moves in which managers are paired either with someone successful in a similar role, or in some cases an outside coach who guides the development of their leadership skills.  This process allows for an open exchange of knowledge and an honest assessment of areas that need to be strengthened.

Provide Job Enrichment/Cross-training Opportunities

When an employee steps outside of their normal job responsibilities and expands their knowledge in the workplace, there are many benefits for both the employee and the organization.  This can be accomplished by increasing employee authority or responsibility through special projects, or by encouraging staff to serve on cross-functional teams. 

There is also an opportunity for sharing and expanding knowledge through cross-training.  By learning the skills and responsibilities of a different position, employees expand their knowledge base and add productivity within the organization as they can fill in for their counterparts when necessary.

Encourage Professional Development

Managers or Leaders, which ones direct your organization?This can be accomplished through many routes, including urging employees to partake in online training and/or attend classroom instruction, as well as providing opportunities for staff to receive continuous on-the-job training. As valued employees are retiring before their replacements are brought up to speed, a transfer of knowledge from one employee to another is crucial to avoid a skills gap.

The encouragement of continuous professional development to address potential skill gaps in advance creates a deep bench of potential successors.

Perhaps Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper stated it best: “You manage things; you lead people.”  Invite your managers to step up to the plate. Provide them the tools and training necessary to reach that next level of effective leadership.  By developing these individuals, you can be assured you will have the leaders in place to boldly carry your organization forward.

Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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  1. Russ Knight's avatar
    Russ Knight
    | Permalink
    Good piece; good summary of what an employer can do to help invest in people!
  2. Melinda Brown's avatar
    Melinda Brown
    | Permalink
    How true - not all managers are good leaders, however they have the potential to be great leaders when, coupled with the right coaching, given the opportunity to move from managing things to leading people.

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