July 24, 2020

Managers vs. leaders

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
— Ronald Reagan

You can’t actually manage people. You can manage systems, processes, and outcomes but people need to be led. Management is about using your power and control to accomplish a goal. It’s a useful skill, but you can’t control people.

To be a leader, you need to know where you’re going. Then you need to communicate that destination to the people on your team. You need to make that story compelling for them. Your people need to find a real sense of purpose in following you.

This means that as a leader you need to understand both what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You need to ensure that every member of your team knows what they’re doing and how it fits into the bigger picture. You need to show your people how to be successful.

As a leader, you must take ownership and get the job done, but you do it by putting yourself last. Take care of the people on your team. Help them succeed. Always give them 100% of the credit when the team is successful, and always take 100% of the blame when the team fails.

When things go poorly for your team, help them see the opportunity through the chaos. When things go well, keep them focused and show them how to get even better.

Leaders set high expectations and push the team to achieve their potential. They give clear, honest assessments. Leaders don’t solve every problem for the team, but they make sure the team has the training and tools to solve any problem.

If your team sees you listen, communicate fully, admit your mistakes, evolve and adapt, and put the team and the mission first, then they’ll trust you. If they know you want them to succeed, they’ll always have your back. If your people believe in you, they’ll follow you.