Are You a Manager or a Leader?

Are You a Manager or a Leader?

Administrators have the greatest impact on employees’ careers and well-being, as work remains a significant aspect of people’s lives. Administrators determine whether employees enjoy or detest what they do. They’re also responsible for the organization’s prosperity. A flood of content cites two broad administrative categories: manager and leader. Is there a distinction, or are the terms one and the same? The designations are sometimes used interchangeably; other times, people draw a significant distinction. Why does it matter? After all, everyone has to report to someone, and people want to make the best of what they’re given. But the distinction is important because employees’ impressions of their administrators can spark or sink both parties’ careers. It’s therefore important to recognize the conspicuous and more nuanced differences and similarities between managers and leaders. The definitions are far from straightforward, and they’re the subject of much debate. If you’ve categorized yourself as one vs. the other, you’ve likely been influenced by specific definitions you’ve read and the ones you prefer. You’ll rarely be told what others make of your administrative style. You’re riding on the impression you have of yourself, which ultimately determines how you lead people. Any complex comparison reveals a definite overlap between managers and leaders. Both have people to oversee. Both want to make a difference and be successful, as guided by their definition of success. Each will deal with ups and downs, with people who are helpful and those who obstruct progress. Many managers and leaders assume their roles without much formal training or preparation. Though some common ground exists, there are numerous dissimilarities. Mindset is the primary...
Discovering Your Life’s Purpose

Discovering Your Life’s Purpose

Discovering your life’s purpose can be likened to embarking on a treasure hunt where new paths unfold in mysterious and surprising ways. Are you ready to become curious, to see what you will discover in order to  live a purposeful, well-lived life? All it takes is a willingness to begin. Knowing why you’re here, and who you want to be, isn’t a part-time job. The challenge is to live out what you stand for, intentionally, in every moment. ~ Tony Schwartz, author People enjoy being engaged in meaningful work. Humans, by nature, are a passionate species, and most of us seek out stimulating experiences. Having a purpose provides context for all of one’s efforts, and it’s a chief criterion for “flow”—the energy state that occurs when one’s mind, body and entire being are committed to the task at hand. Flow turns mundane work into completely absorbing experiences, allowing us to push the limits of skills and talents. On some level, everyone wants to live a purposeful life, yet we are distracted by societal pressures to achieve wealth and prestige. There are indications, however, that this is changing. Just as Gross National Product (GNP) fails to reflect the well-being and satisfaction of a country’s citizens, a person’s net worth has little to do with personal fulfillment. There are benefits to having a sense of purpose other than the emotional and psychological ones. For example, having a strong sense of purpose can help you live longer. A 2009 study of over 73,000 Japanese men and women found that those who had a strong connection to their sense of purpose tended to...
Midcareer Crisis …or Opportunity?

Midcareer Crisis …or Opportunity?

Have you ever had a midcareer fantasy where you quit your job and go do something new? Many executives secretly admit to their coaches that they’re contemplating midcareer shifts. They may not actively seek change, but they certainly start imagining it. Of LinkedIn’s 313 million members, 25% are active job seekers; 60% are passive job seekers (not proactively searching for new jobs, but seriously willing to consider viable opportunities). There’s also been a steady increase in self-employed and temporary workers over the last two decades. Entrepreneurship may sound lucrative every time a startup goes public. Regardless of your age, background or professional accomplishments, you’ve probably dreamed about a new career at some point. Midlife is often a time when we reevaluate our goals, aspirations and what truly matters to us in life. In “5 Signs It’s Time for a New Job” (Harvard Business Review, April 2015), Columbia University...

Strength-based Leadership

Which leadership style will prevail in the future? If you want to improve employee engagement and productivity while reducing turnover, your organization must build on individual and team strengths. Nearly a decade ago, Gallup unveiled the results of a 30-year research project on leadership strengths. More than 3 million people have since taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, which forms the core of several noteworthy books: Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton (Free Press, 2001) StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press, 2007) Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham (Free Press, 2007) In Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow, New York Times-bestselling author Tom Rath and leadership consultant Barry Conchie reveal the results of extensive Gallup research. Based on their analyses, three keys to effective leadership emerge: Know your strengths – and invest in others – strengths. Hire people with the right strengths for your team. Understand and meet your followers’ four basic needs: trust, compassion, stability and hope. 3 Keys to Effective Leadership 1. The most effective leaders continuously invest in strengths. When leaders fail to focus on individuals’ strengths, the odds of employee engagement drop to a dismal 1 in 11 (9%). But when leaders focus on employees’ strengths, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%). That translates to an eightfold increase in the odds of engaging individuals in their work, leading to greatly increased organizational and personal gains. Employees enjoy greater self-confidence when they learn about their strengths (as opposed to focusing on their weaknesses). Emphasizing what people...

The Quest for Leadership Purpose

?Great leadership has the potential to excite people to extraordinary levels of achievement. But it is not only about performance; it is also about meaning.? ~ Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones, Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? (Harvard Business Review Press, 2006) Great leaders have a profound impact in their communities, families and key societal realms (i.e., sports, politics). Nowhere is good leadership more important than at work, where we devote considerable time and energy. If you want to drive a high-performance organization, you must find ways to make employee performance meaningful. Sadly, many executive teams focus on numbers instead of words when trying to motivate people to achieve more. Carrots and sticks may work in some situations, but leaders must engage hearts and minds to truly excite people to give their all. There is a deepening disenchantment with traditional-style management. We are increasingly suspicious of the skilled and charismatic boss who echoes corporate mission statements and jargon. The search for authenticity in those who lead us has never been more pressing. While concepts such as quiet leadership and servant leaders are popular in business bestsellers, corporations are slow to change selection criteria. Leadership continues to be about results. Organizations are not immune to the lure of the heroic CEO. While great results aren?t achieved by inspirational leadership alone, they may not be possible without it. Employees choose to come to work and give their best?or not. Leaders who excel at capturing hearts, minds and souls provide purpose, meaning and motivation. Know Your Leadership Purpose How can we expect our leaders to provide a sense of meaning and...

Toxic Leadership

A New Look at Solutions Much has been written about toxic leaders with psychopathic traits and narcissistic personality disorders. Bad leaders leave a trail of diminishing returns, ruined reputations, failed products, employee litigation and disheartened staffs. But applying labels doesn’t solve any problems. Leadership is relationship-driven, and organizational toxicity involves all levels – from followers to executive boards. Chopping off the rotting head won’t do the trick when the entire organizational system has been infected. Companies that replace one dysfunctional leader with another often run through a series of CEOs in an attempt to find the right savior. They’re effectively changing seats on the Titanic. Signs of Toxicity There is no precise definition of toxic behavior. Most people recognize it as displays of arrogance, selfishness, manipulation, bullying, callousness and control. Toxic bosses may be smooth and polished with people they need, but disrespectful and harsh with subordinates. Many toxic bosses achieve spectacular results and wind up in the limelight, so their transgressions are forgiven or tolerated. They use their ability to manipulate people to further their own careers, no matter the cost to the organization or its people. In the short term, they act like heroes and create loyal followers who produce great results. In the long term, they create enemies, bend rules, and push the limits of ethics and relationships.When business results are positive, toxic behaviors may go unchecked. But when the bottom line takes a dip, CEOs lose their patience. Resisting External Help Unfortunately, companies often call in coaches or consultants only after reluctantly acknowledging the scope of their problems. Even when they do ask for help,...