leadership danger

Here’s the leadership danger: By feigning interest in building rapport and agreement with organization members (that is, by promising something that he or she has little or no intention of deliv- ering or that is unlikely to be delivered), the manager risks losing the leadership stature that could be used to move the organization forward in human terms to accomplish the organization’s purpose.

  1. Leadership depends on managerial action for fulfillment of a vision and values. Managership is results based. A manager must move from establishing a commitment to a vision to actions that will enact the vision. Vision and action must be viewed as a leadership-to- managership process. A manager uses leadership behaviors to build rapport, then follows up with managership behaviors necessary to accomplish the vision. The process is not linear, of course. The two sets of behaviors, leading and managing, move from one to the other as needed.
  2. Leadership and managership are fluid and distinct states that exist in moments—switching quickly from one posture to the other. A word, an inflection, or even a glance will signal a leadership behavior or a managership behavior. The two pos- tures can be planned distinctly. For example, the different postures might be enacted as follows: [start- ing with a managerial posture] “As you know, we are facing tough times ahead. We need to become more ef- ficient, and we need to reduce costs. There’s no question in my mind that [switch to leadership posture] this team can accomplish all that needs to be required. [back to being a manager] I have developed goals and steps to accomplish these goals that I believe will make us not only viable, but will put [now using leadership words] us in a more competitive position. There will be some [managerial reality] tough times ahead, but [leadership encour- agement] we will get through them together. I welcome your suggestions as we move forward.”

The manager’s goal is to bal- ance organization requirements and member desires. It is not lopsided to say that the organization exists first, in charter, with more funda- mental rights. However, it is equally not lopsided to say that organization members give life to the actions of the organization and are entitled to member rights—consideration and fulfillment of their needs and expec- tations where possible. Neither a manager nor the people will agree with or be able to include all of the differing solutions into the fulfillment of an organizational vi- sion. Fulfillment of organization goals and objectives is better when both the manager and organization members carefully and openly examine differ- ent solutions and build agreement around implementation. A manager will have to set aside organization members’ personal de- sires from time to time to accomplish organization goals. In other words, the manager will have to act arbitrarily. However, organization members are likely to set aside their personal desires to work toward organization goals if they know that at other times their needs and ambitions will not only be considered but will be met.

Managers who want to be leaders The acclaim given to a leader can be both breathtaking and intimidating. Reading the sales pitches and content of leadership development programs, or trying to follow the prescriptions of ebullient books regarding the achievements of “great leaders” (usu- ally hard-driving managers) is daunt- ing to most managers. On the contrary, adding leadership strategies and behaviors to manageri- al talent is within easy reach of “ordi- nary” managers once they realize that they do not have to be heroes all of the time. The separation of leadership opportunities (I’d like them to agree with me) from managership respon- sibilities (I’ve got to get the job done) is a guilt-free psychological relief that experienced managers wish they had learned early in their careers.

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