Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
“A leader is anyone who is willing to help.” (The Berkana Institute. www.berkana.org )
One of my favorite discussions in all of our leadership courses centers around what is leadership and what is management. In his book, “Tribes” Seth Godin describes it this way:
“Leadership is Not Management. Management is about manipulating resources to get a known job done. Burger King hires managers. They know exactly what they need to deliver and they are given resources to do it at a low cost. Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible.
Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in.
Leaders have followers. Managers have employees.
Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.”
Consider also the following comments from two different MBA students following our discussion of this topic. Both came from their reflective writing assignments
“A key idea that resonated with me from the class discussion is that leadership is a choice and not merely a power inherited with a title. Far too often we find ourselves wrapped up in the notion that leadership is a position we get to in the company. That is a vain and fallacious view of leadership. Unfortunately, I have developed too many of my expectations with the premise, “If I do a good job now, one day, they will make me a leader.” I’ve always held that leadership is a management position that I will earn one day. However, I have realized that my opportunity for leadership is up to me. I don’t need to wait for my company to tell me I’m a leader. I can simply start being a leader today. Interestingly enough, I believe that stepping up and showing my leadership today, and exercising it, will do more for my bigger career ambitions than the path I am currently on. Not only that, but I can get a lot more done now by being a leader to my co-workers (and even my managers) by leading.” (Spring 2009 MBA student)
“I’ve recently begun to make an effort to differentiate between the leaders and managers at my workplace. The layers of management are quick to refer to their group as “leadership”, when in fact they only react to manage current circumstances. While management skills are critical, the class discussion made it clear that an organization cannot thrive with purely management or leadership skills – it must rely on a balance of both. This gives me some clarity as to why I’ve been so frustrated with those in positions of authority, as they consistently react to financial pressures, and ignore the forward-thinking pleas of subordinate leaders. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to manage or “lead” up the chain of command.” (Spring 2009 MBA student)
And so you get it, right?
- A leader is anyone who is willing to help.
- Leadership is a choice, not a position.
- Leadership is a set of teachable, learnable and measurable results. (Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner)
- Management is about STABILITY. It’s about planning, directing and controlling resources in order to deliver consistent results (product or service.
- Leadership is about CHANGE. It’s about creating a vision for the future; creating a culture where people are motivated and inspired to grow.
- The power for being an effective manager comes from position—from being the boss. The power for being an effective leader comes from your personal power; being a coach, facilitator and servant leader.
- Managers do things RIGHT; Leaders do the right thing. (Peter Drucker)
Which leads us to two questions.
- Can you be a good manager without being a good leader?
- Can you be a good leader without being a good manager?
What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment and let me know.
“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear; so you can see what you don’t want to see; so you can be what you’ve always wanted to be.” (Tom Landry, former coach of Dallas Cowboys)
I’m learning more about coaching all over again. Last fall I began working with a personal trainer in order to improve my physical strength and to become healthier. In addition to the personal benefits gained, the process has solidified the value of the coaching process I use with my clients.
The training process with trainer Dave began with measuring weight, body fat and various body measurements. Yes, I was shocked to hear that while my overall weight wasn’t out of line, my body fat percentage was 31.5%, which put me in the 28th percentile for women my age. Wake up call—I’m ready for change!
The next step was to discuss my goals. Dave was great at helping me gain clarity about my goals—and where I wanted to be. For me, it wasn’t just about weight loss, but more about reducing body fat and also gaining muscle. My goal was to reduce my body fat percent to a very healthy 18%.
With the measurements and goals established, the hard work began. For me, that was three times a week training with Dave and three times a week of cardio and abs on my own. I also was diligent about my eating and kept a daily food diary.
This entire process has been a perfect reflection of the leadership development model I use. It begins with the realization that leadership is a measurable, teachable, and learnable set of skills. But just like weight loss, you don’t learn about it from reading a book—you learn—and make changes in your life by measuring, setting goals, and going out and practicing.
Step one in the leadership development process is to define your current reality (what are my strengths and weaknesses; how do others see me as a leader, etc). For many of my clients, we use a 360 leadership assessment to assist with this step. Results of the 360 assessment vary by client, but I will say that some clients receive the same type of wake-up call as I did with my body-fat percent. “You mean I’m NOT as good a leader as I thought I was?”
Step two in the process is to define our “ideal self”: how do we want to be seen as a leader? While step one requires a great deal of willingness to receive feedback from others; step two requires self-reflection, a willingness to dream, and to challenge ourselves to be our best.
And then the hard work begins. You know, I’m just like many other people. I was wondering why I couldn’t just get healthy without having to do all this hard work? Isn’t there a pill I can take and be done with it?
No pill for me—and no quick and easy pill for strengthening your leadership skills. Once you’ve defined your current reality and ideal self, it’s time to develop a plan and begin practicing new skills. Practice…practice…adjust as necessary…keep practicing. You won’t do everything perfect; that isn’t the goal. The goal is to continue on the path and to learn from your mistakes. (You mean I can’t have a large piece of chocolate cake and 2 glasses of wine for dinner and wonder why my energy level is so low??)
In my ten years of coaching others, I’ve witnessed other people create sustainable positive change in their lives and work. A short list of accomplishments includes:
- Improving listening skills (which helps both personally and at work)
- Gaining clarity on personal mission and vision and values
- Learning to better delegate
- Learning skills for leading change
- Exercising more self-regulation during challenging situations.
- Improving Emotional Intelligence skills
- Improving skills for visioning which in turn led to promotions to higher levels in the organization.
- And many more.
None of the above happened overnight. Leadership development is a journey. It requires an accurate assessment of current reality, defining your ideal self, establishing a plan of action, and then an ongoing commitment to practice and adjust as necessary.
Oh, and for me…I reached my goal. During my check-in last week, my body fat percent was 17.8%. Even though I’ve reached my goal, I’m continuing my commitment to my personal health, including healthy eating, exercise and continued work with my trainer. Thanks Dave!
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminister Fuller
In December I had the opportunity to listen to two women CEOs in one week’s time. The women struck me as very different and yet very inspiring. The first was Sister Joan Lescinski, President of St Ambrose University. Sister Joan was kind enough to sit in circle and share her experiences with our “Grow to be CEO” women’s leadership group. Exerts of Sister Joan’s conversation with our group are included on page 2 of this newsletter.
The second woman leader was Meg Whitman, CEO of E-Bay who was speaking at a local Chamber breakfast. During the course of her presentation, she shared the keys to business success. The last one discussed was “Disruptive innovation is key and has to come from within.” She talked about the fact the E-Bay was constantly looking for ways to reinvent themselves in order to stay ahead of the marketplace. Given the successful growth of E-Bay in recent years, one can hardly argue that the strategy hasn’t been successful.
But Meg’s comment about disruptive innovation caught my attention for another reason as well. What about the role of disruptive innovation in personal leadership development? I found myself asking myself these questions: Where am I stuck in my own life? Where in my life do I need some disruptive innovation? ”
In his research about unleashing self-directed learning, Richard E. Boyatzis, PhD said this: “Most, if not all, sustainable behavioral change is intentional. Self-directed change is an intentional change in an aspect of who you are (i.e., the Real) or who you want to be (i.e., the Ideal), or both. Self-directed learning is self-directed change in which you are aware of the change and understand the process of change.
The (growth) process may not and often does not occur as a smooth, linear event. It occurs with a surprise. The person’s behavior may seem to be stuck for long periods of time and then a change appears quite suddenly. This is a discontinuity. A person might begin the process of self-directed learning at any point in the process, but it will often begin when the person experiences a discontinuity, the associated epiphany or a moment of awareness and a sense of urgency.” (Unleashing the Power of Self-Directed Learning, May 2001).
I’ve written and spoke many times in the past about the 360 leadership assessment I received ten years ago when I was President of Midland Press Corporation. That assessment was an example of discontinuity and disruption for me; it set me on a new path to change my leadership style and show up in the world in a more compassionate, yet results-oriented way. Ultimately it also led me to leave my position at Midland and start my own business.
My recent trip to South Africa was my most recent example of disruption. We met with a variety of women leaders and there were several times when I felt a kick in the gut to do more—or do things differently. To provide just one example, during a breakfast dialogue with women leaders at the Gordon Institute of Business, author Meg Wheatley said (summarized by me): “Seventy percent of poor and illiterate are women; 95% of the casualties of war are women. On a global level, we are not dealing with the issues of women and poverty. You have to conclude that this is a world that does not care about our children.”
Meg went on to say: “I don’t know if woman can change the world. But I don’t know anything else that might!
And so, the kick in the guts have reminded me that as women, we have everything we need already to create positive change in the world. Are we ready?
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