Great leadership and management, while often linked, are very different. It is possible, albeit not easy, to switch back and forth between the coaching role of the manager and the visionary role of the leader. I have learned from working with our CEOs and Key Executives and the new Emerging Leaders Forum that many have talent for both. Reading The One Thing You Need to Know by Marcus Buckingham helped me understand the difference.
In January we launched a new TeamStrength program called the Emerging Leaders Forum. We started with 7 members with roles in sales, marketing, strategic projects, HR and operations at various member companies. While the average tenure was only four years, these members were chosen by their CEO’s as exceptional new voices with potential for long-term key leadership roles at their company. The Emerging Leaders Forum (ELF) blends knowledge building with TeamStrength tried-and-true resources and our forum method for presenting hard-hitting issues.
As with every TeamStrength group, the members bring a variety of strengths and behavioral styles to the table. While their methods differ, their passion does not. Every Emerging Leader is focused on success, heavily invested in their team, and constantly striving for improvement. When the pandemic emerged they responded by walking into the chaos and pouring into their team.
In The One Thing You Need to Know by Marcus Buckingham he describes the ‘one thing’ that great managers have as a talent for turning employees’ skills in productivity and performance. Throughout the year, the Emerging Leaders have soaked up tools for measuring employee performance, presented issues on driving accountability, and spoke to the importance of building relationships, asking questions and treating employees individually to drive success. These conversations did not halt with the pandemic, but picked up as the leaders recognized the importance of driving productivity and positivity through their teams that were now facing challenges previously unheard of.
These members also show great promise as leaders. Marcus describes the ‘one thing’ of great leadership as the ability to rally others to a better future.
“The great leaders sees a crystal clear picture of how the future could be better. This clarity of vision, plus an ability to sell it to others, enables leaders to overcome obstacles.”
Vision got murky this year, for everyone. Across the world we saw leaders step up and others falter as teams worked to rally behind the consistently shifting vision that is 2020. Parts of this year have been dark and the brighter tomorrows hard to see. The One Thing You Need to Know is a great reminder that anyone can be a leader if they can inspire others towards a brighter tomorrow. Leaders hold in their minds a unique, clear image of how the future could be different and feel a restless urgency to bring it about with core talents such as an optimistic outlook and strong ego.
While managers search for employees’ individuality, leaders search for universal appeal. For what people have in common, rather than their differences. They understand their fear to find their need and use these commonalities to realize a future vision. While the Emerging Leaders have harnessed the power of great management, their success as leaders lies in the belief of their ability to achieve their goals, resilience to see a brighter future even in the face of discouragement, optimistic outlook and abundant focus on action.
“Properly defined, the opposite of a leader isn’t a follower. The opposite of a leader is a pessimist.”
The best managers also employ great leaderships qualities, and most leaders are required to manage effectively, so be mindful of which hat you are wearing – remember the ‘one thing’ as you approach each. We are grateful to assist leaders and managers who continue to grow in their abilities through our programs from our resources, coaching and most of all from each other.