How to Know if YOU have the Heart of a Leader

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There is a whole body of academic work surrounding studies about management versus leadership.

Need a coachOne of the best explanations I know states simply:

Management is about the process. Leadership is about people. ~Doug Thorpe

Being a good manager means business goals (or personal goals) are getting met. The process is working close to or at its peak potential. You, as a manager, can influence the priorities, push the right buttons, and get things done. Some managers make good, solid careers operating at this level. However, there may not be any meaningful impact in the lives of the employees subjected to a ‘pure manager’ approach.

Managers can certainly be decent handlers of their people; fair, honest, respectful, and so forth. But frankly, some managers are not good with people. While results are being posted, the people on the team are slowly feeling disconnected and uninspired.

Leadership takes the influence with people to a whole higher level. Leadership definitely gets the work done and meets or exceeds goals. While that is happening, people are feeling inspired. Team morale is building. Loyalty is growing.

Understanding how to be both an efficient manager and an effective leader takes some work.

In his book “The Heart of Leadership”, Mark Miller tells a story of a young business man named Blake. Blake is struggling at work with his duties as a team leader. He seeks some counsel from a close family friend. I won’t tell all of the story, but the core value comes down to this simple acrostic.

H.E.A.R.T.

The initials stand for:

  • Hunger for wisdom –  keep learning new and different things to improve yourself
  • Expect the best –  set a high standard and maintain your expectations for it
  • Accept responsibility – stop the blame game, take your ownership seriously
  • Respond with courage –  be bold with your decisions
  • Think others first –  be willing to be more of a servant rather than a boss

True leadership does in fact have heart. I like the simple way this can be explained. (By the way, Mark’s book is a great read for anyone struggling in this area).

As with Blake in this story, you might need to seek multiple mentors to guide you in each of these areas. Find role models who fully understand these principles. Soak in their experiences. Begin the journey to apply the teachings to your efforts both in the office and at home.

I promise you will be amazed by the shift in those who report to you, for whom you have influence and impact. When all things are said and done, leadership to inspire and guide people will far outperform pure management. Having a heart for leadership wins the day!

New Managers – Begin with the End in Mind

This is one of the wisest teachings I have heard in a long time. Anyone who has been appointed as a new manager should be thinking about this vital aspect of the new role they are playing at work.

Step #2 in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” is ‘begin with the end in mind’. I was thinking about this the other day and it occurred to me that many things do not end well.

There are the obvious examples like divorces, car crashes, job loss, health issues, and financial change (downward). Then there are the things like our favorite TV shows that came to an end. Shows like Lost, Friends, Fraser, and Boston Legal all had pretty good endings. But some very successful and well admired shows had really bad endings; think fade to black on The Sopranos. How often have you seen a movie or read a book and said “gee, I didn’t like the way it ended”?

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Advice to New Managers | Complaints Go Up

First time managers face a big challenge knowing how to channel the complaints they feel about the workplace. In a clip from the epic WWII movie, “Saving Private Ryan”, Tom Hanks as Captain Miller answers a question from one of his men about what to do with complaints.

I could not express this topic any better than the advice given in this clip.

[shareable cite=”Tom Hanks as CPT Miller”]Complaints go UP, always up.[/shareable]

[reminder]What do you do with complaints?[/reminder]

Management and Popularity

Placing yourself on the firing line as a manager is not for the faint of heart. Because of the responsibilities you will shoulder, there will always be someone, somewhere who finds your handling of one of their matters unacceptable.

Recently, in my effort to fine tune the content and offerings I want to publish here, I was doing some survey work inside my contact database. Most responses were very helpful, insightful, thoughtful, etc. These were building good community energy.

Then I opened up one particular survey response.

Courtesy 123rf.com/ Christophe BOISSON
Courtesy 123rf.com/ Christophe BOISSON

Ouch! This person, who refused to admit who he/she was, jumped me pretty hard about my “lack of management skill”. Basically, they called me a hypocrite for thinking I could teach and coach new managers because their personal opinion of me was so ‘poor’.

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Leadership: Don’t Settle for Something

Steve Jobs“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” –  Steve Jobs

Keyword : Settling

One day I was talking to a client who was in job search mode. I asked about his prior career path, asking how it had measured up to his original dreams and hopes. His response stunned me.

“What path? There is no match.” he said. “Life got in the way. I was going to be an architect. School was completed and I was ready to launch. But my girl friend was pregnant and we decided to get married. I needed work immediately. I got a job at Sears. Thirty years later, I am still in retail.” (Some details changed to protect anonymity).

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