One of the complaints most often heard from our clients is that they feel misplaced in their current job assignments. Many clients believe, for various reasons, their leadership skills to be underutilized. In these cases frustrations build, team unity is fractured, and thriving in that scenario is difficult at best; at its worst, thriving is nearly impossible.
I can empathize. I, too, have served in positions that required no leadership, no creativity, no challenge other than anticipating the next move of those above me. Not being allowed to flex my creativity and leadership muscles have led me through the same frustration, the same disappointment.
So when this topic comes up, I always ask my clients these two questions…
1) How do you define the difference between ‘managing’ and ‘leading’?
2) How do you lead or manage others outside of your work assignment?
I ask these questions for one reason: I believe leadership is a personal character trait, not a job assignment. There are many employees who simply want to be in charge. Being in charge, however, is not leading; that is management.
Managing is doing that- managing the personnel, the resources, the processes that are already approved or are already in place. Good managers are a necessary part of every organization, and we all need to have good managerial experience to be good leaders.
Leading goes quite a bit further- leading is dreaming… envisioning the future… having an ability to read the current business climate in your area of expertise… thinking through and improving processes… and presenting that vision in a way that encourages everyone in your organization to see enough of what you see to get on board with that vision, and to achieve those goals.
Because I believe leadership is a personal characteristic, a leader will and should lead wherever the opportunity reveals itself.
My response to those clients is as consistent as it is challenging: if you believe yourself to be a leader, then do what leaders do- LEAD! If you are not positioned for leadership in your current job assignment, find a role outside your job assignment that affords the opportunity to lead. Those opportunities abound, especially in larger towns and cities. Social groups, community service organizations, religious organizations and non-profits can always use servants and leaders. Entrepreneurial groups, volunteer organizations, and community sporting leagues always need leaders and workers. The difficulty is in keeping perspective; don’t let your outside leadership opportunities outweigh your work assignment. Be your best at your job and with your outside leadership opportunities.
A person with leadership characteristics who is true to himself will find a place to lead, whether at work or in the community. So leaders, I release you!
Do what you are designed to do…