Friday 11 October 2019

21st century leadership and management (post and podcast)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

Much has changed since I entered the workforce 48 years ago.

When I began bosses were seen as God’s. They were revered or hated.

My first boss loved to say “It’s my way or the highway.” I eventually chose the highway.

Today 7 out of 10 people some research suggests don’t leave their employment, they leave their bosses.

When I first became a manager myself I was fortunate that my boss was a people as well as process person.

We arrived in the small town together. He knew the town and the people. I didn’t.

His advice to me was to go and meet everyone in the main three streets and find out how I could help them and then within company policy help them achieve what they say.

Regarding my two staff members he advised me to see their best and to focus on inspiring them to bring that best to their work.

I didn’t really know any better and his advice made sense so I followed it. I was very successful and within a year was promoted to managing a larger office.

It was there that I first began to really understand that leadership and management are two sides of the same coin and that leading is about people and management is about process.

Fast forward to now where I’m closing in on 30 years of being a mentor to leaders. Over this time I have been privileged to work with more than 1000 leaders, women and men in over 40 countries and across a myriad of diverse industries.

My conclusions are that my enlightened boss was right on the money with his advice to me as a brand new manager.

Is success in the future about leadership or management? is a question I am often asked.  My answer is that success is always about both leadership and management, never one or the other.  Therefore it is essential to understand,  appreciate and value the difference between them.

This is where there is often trouble.  For many management is still seen as controlling people and dictating what they feel, think and do and don’t feel, think and do.  This is a nasty hangover from the industrial revolution where it was assumed we could treat people like machines.  The headache this hangover has been allowed to cause is a massive barrier to progress in the 21st century in almost every aspect of our lives.  It is a fundamental reason for non-achievement of what is possible or just plain mediocrity in business, politics, education, family, religion, you name it.

My definitions of leadership and management are therefore sharper than ever.

I define leadership as the art of inspiring people to see and bring the best out in themselves and other people. I define management as the practice of making it simple for people to bring out their best.

For some management is still about command and control. This is fine in emergency situations otherwise it has reached dinosaur status. Don’t be a dinosaur.

Modern management is about ensuring processes mean it is simple for people to bring their best to their work. Processes include policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems.

Modern management needs modern leadership and vice-versa.

I suggest a primary action is upgrading all of your processes, policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems over time with your people because you will increase their ownership of and commitment to them. 

Then focus on leading. Just make sure that one of your processes is checking that all the other interconnected processes are working as intended. In today’s language we call this risk management.

This work is that of the Systemizer, one of 5 roles that are essential to master in order to see and bring out the best in people including yourself. Here is the performance possibility pulse check that enables you to see how you’re going in each role and where you can shift to.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

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