Managing people might be the most difficult, least rewarding thing a person can attempt.
On the other hand leading people is actually far easier and way more rewarding. In fact, leading people is one of the most rewarding things anyone can ever do.
I don’t want to give anyone the impressive that leading others is easy, it’s just easier, far easier, than attempting to manage them. It’s easier because managing people is impossible. It’s impossible because people refuse to be managed.
People need and want leadership not management.
Leadership is about people while managing is about things. If you’re trying to manage people then you’re treating those people like things and that doesn’t work.
There are no doubt managers reading this who believe managing and leading are one and the same. I can only wonder how they have time to read anything considering how many problems they create for themselves with that kind of mindset. Could it be they just don’t deal with the problems they create?
Most every “people problem” that ends up in an HR Department comes directly from attempting to manage people. The vast majority of turnover comes from managing people. The overwhelming majority of “attitude issues” is directly linked to people feeling managed instead of led. When you keep in mind that over 70% of employee terminations result from some form of attitude issue it seems like it would be a good idea to not create even more.
Managing people may seem easier than investing a part of yourself in leading them but attempting to manage another human being is like attempting to go boating without water. It’s not going to happen.
While leading others requires a greater investment by the leader in the lives of those they would lead the return on that investment can be huge. It can be life altering, for both the leader and the led. It is richly rewarding and it’s a reward that money cannot buy.
Authentic Leaders, and particularly Authentic Servant Leaders, lead because they want to make a positive difference in the lives of those they lead. A simply thank you from their people is worth more than all the tea in China. That thank you is pure gold. Knowing you’ve made a positive difference for someone is why true leaders lead.
Okay, time for an aside here….my dad would frequently say something was worth more than “all the tea in China.” Having been to China only once I didn’t notice an unusually large amount of tea. Does anyone know where that saying came from?
Anyway, if you want to make a difference in the life of someone else then try to manage them. It won’t be a difference they will thank you for but it will be a difference they will remember. If you want that difference to be positive then make the effort to authentically lead them.
Knowing you have made a positive difference in the life of another person is a reward that money will never be able to buy.
15 thoughts on “The Reward of Leadership”
With so much talk around leadership vs management and how they are either similar or different, my take is that we lead people and mange projects. People are not projects, except they are, and those are very few.
I agree, I would add that when people do need to be treated as projects that the leader has failed as much as the “project” has failed.
Steve, great job on this post! I needed to hear this.
Thanks Tim, I appreciate your kind words!
Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.
Well said. I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership for the last 6 decades. Sometimes fiction helps you see reality more clearly. At least that’s the intent for these stories about two mythical tribes – the Veritas and the Cupiditas who have different values and different ways of leading. https://petersironwood.com/2018/08/07/myth-of-the-veritas-the-first-ring-of-empathy/
Thanks for sharing those, stories help make concepts that are challenging to understand a bit easier to digest and even apply. She Who Saves Many Lives is the kind of leader we need more of, many more of today. If a leader could have only one skill I would want that skill to be empathy…. you cannot lead those you do not truly understand.
I agree. Leadership is the need of the hour.
Great read, thanks for sharing!
You’re very welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Well said! Thanks for sharing.
You’re very welcome, glad you liked it!
I have been talking about the difference in management and leadership for years. I agree, manage resources not people. Lead people not resources.
Thanks Joseph, it’s great to work with a leader. Working for a manager not so much.