My professional journey began 28 years ago as an executive trainee at an Indian corporate house. My career path has taken me through three decades of managers, each with a different working style. I have had the good fortune of working with immensely talented individuals who have mentored me through my career but would consider a select few as true leaders. I believe that in today’s world we have managers by designation who do a good job of managing their KPIs, and in some cases, helping juniors meet their KPIs, but a leader has other distinguishing traits.
My observations have led me to understand that a good manager does not necessarily make a good leader. Managing a task/team means strategizing, delegating and weighing down in one’s own style. This leads to seeing results or meeting targets as the team continuously works on good instructions and direction. The same needs to be done consistently and with great intensity.
The important aspect of being a leader is to ensure and enable individual team members to take responsibility for their jobs, and to do it in a manner that does not need micromanagement. Team members should look forward to working with and meeting expected deliveries for the leader.
3 KEY POINTS DEFINE LEADERSHIP
While the above definition is the dictionary’s literal meaning, the emphasis is on how a senior professional develops this quality and encourages the team to embrace this sentiment and incorporate it into their own style of working. The team should see their leader as one who listens and empathizes by considering the point-of-view of the team before making a decision. It is vital for team members to know that they are heard and respected. This in turn paves the way for change; transition is smooth, and resistance much lower.
Authenticity to me is being who you are without trying to mimic a preconceived notion of authority. Imposing authority/superiority on the team reporting in will not get the desired buy-in. The pretense/mask will fall because you are not yourself. When this occurs, the team will notice the inconsistencies in your way of being, and like children, will begin managing you as you falter.
Being yourself, with all your failings, makes you human. There is no harm accepting a wrong decision made or even asking for time to make a decision. As yourself, you will be authentic and thereby, respected and followed.
Things fall apart sometimes. This is when the true test of a leader comes into play. A leader is someone who takes on the pressure of the breakdown and refrains from an impulsive reaction. Punching someone who’s already down only makes things worse for oneself, and will only instill unnecessary fear and limit the ability to foresee challenges that the team will cover up due to fear of repercussions. Balancing one’s own feelings of turmoil with a bad situation, and responding rather than reacting, will make a good leader.
A leader walks in front of the team while a manager herds the team.
M C Cariappa is an accidental corporate professional having spent three decades in the corporate world in varied roles and industries. Currently on a sabbatical to spend time on learning and sharpening his skills in the world of coaching and mentoring individuals, apart from building on his overall wellness, travelling and playing golf.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Coach-To-Transformation or its parent company.